28 Fla. St. U. L. Rev. 935 (2000-2001)
Mandatory Minimum Sentences: Exemplifying the Law of Unintended Consequences

handle is hein.journals/flsulr28 and id is 949 raw text is: MANDATORY MINIMUM SENTENCES:
EXEMPLIFYING THE LAW OF
UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES
CHRISTOPHER MASCHARKA*
I.  INTRODUCTION  ..................................................................................................  935
II. THE RISE OF MANDATORY MINIMUM PROVISIONS .............................................  938
III.  CREATING UNIFORMITY IN SENTENCING? ..........................................................  942
IV. MANDATORY PROVISIONS: INEFFICIENT AT ATTAINING DRUG AND CRIME
PREVENTION  GOALS ...........................................................................................  945
A.  Economics and  Sentencing  .........................................................................  945
B.  Certainty  u. Severity  in  Sentencing  ............................................................  946
C. Factors Undermining the Legislative Intent of Mandatory Minimums .....  947
D. Allocating Resources to the Big Business of Corrections ............................  949
V.  THE CALCULATION OF DRUG WEIGHTS .............................................................  952
A .  Cocaine ........................................................................................................  953
B .  L S D   .............................................................................................................  954
C .  Hydrocodone  ...............................................................................................  957
VI. A FERTILE MANDATORY MINIMUM SENTENCING CLIMATE ................................  964
A.  Legislative M otives and  M indsets .............................................................  964
B. The Public's Concerns about Drugs and Crime ..........................................  965
C. Entrenched Camps in the Drug War-Little Room for a Middle
G round  ........................................................................................................  967
D. The Role of Expert Opinions in Sentencing Policy .....................................  970
VII.  C ONCLUSION  ......................................................................................................  974
I. INTRODUCTION
Mandatory minimum sentences, once rare in the criminal law sys-
tem, have experienced a dramatic increase in popularity. This politi-
cal phenomenon has enjoyed wide bipartisan support: since the mid-
1980s, Congress has routinely passed new crime measures contain-
ing mandatory minimum sentences.' In spite of the political popular-
ity of this sentencing tool, many commentators are concerned about
the social and economic effects resulting from the proliferation of
mandatory minimum sentencing statutes. Chief Justice Rehnquist
has commented that these measures are perhaps a good example of
the law of unintended consequences.2
* J.D., Florida State University College of Law, 2001; BA., Economics, University
of South Florida, 1998.
1. See, e.g., Alcohol and Drug Abuse Act of 1986, Pub. L. No. 99-570, 100 Stat. 3207
(1986) (codified as amended in scattered sections of 18 U.S.C., 21 U.S.C., 31 U.S.C.); Om-
nibus Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, Pub. L No. 100-690, § 6470(a), 102 Stat. 4377 (codified
as amended at 21 U.S.C. 5§ 846, 963 (2000)). More than one scholar has noted that be-
tween 1986 and the mid-1990s, Congress passed these measures about every two years, or
every election year. See, e.g., Carl M. Cannon, America- All Locked Up, NATL J., Aug. 15,
1998, at 1906.
2. William H. Rehnquist, Luncheon Address (June 18, 1993), in U.S. SENTENCING
COMM'N, DRUGS & VIOLENCE IN AMERICA: PROCEEDINGS OF THE INAUGURAL SYMPOSIUM ON
CRIME AND PUNISHMENT IN THE UNITED STATES: JUNE 16-18, 1993, WASHINGTON D.C. 286

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