Lawmakers concluded after close examination of tough-on-crime-era policies that not only are minimum mandatory sentences ineffective, they are costing taxpayers enormous amounts of money – often for very little return. On top of that, the cost to communities, families and individuals, who are serving decades behind bars for non-violent offenses, is astronomical.
Take for example the 25-year prison term of one inmate at a correctional facility in Homestead. In 2002, she was arrested for selling 35 pills. She got $300 out of the deal. She was arrested and later convicted for drug trafficking. Minimum mandatory sentencing guidelines meant the judge had no discretion: She would have to serve 25 years. Housing her in prison costs taxpayers more than $18,000 annually. By the time her sentence is over and she is released in 2023, it will have cost taxpayers nearly $452,000. Continue reading