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Letter: Put an end to non-violent mandatory minimums

Editor, Gazette-Journal:

Mass incarceration is an issue that unites members of both political parties. Our flawed criminal justice system is in dire need of reform. The United States imprisons more people than any other nation, by far. We have nearly 5 percent of the world’s population and almost 25 percent of its prisoners.

Most of these incarcerated aren’t violent criminals. The overwhelming majority are non-violent offenders. In fact, violent crime has been on a steady decline for the past two decades. What has increased is our sentencing laws; in particular, the number of mandatory minimum sentences handed down. Mandatory minimum sentences force judges to issue minimum sentences for many non-violent crimes, in turn overpopulating our prisons.

Offenders released from prison also suffer financially. Many face difficulties finding work and, when they do, the pay is low. One recent finding from the Pew Charitable Trusts states “Former male inmates make 40 percent l...

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