Mandatory minimums are outdated, bad laws that impose a mandatory amount of time a person must be sentenced to prison based on a crime. These “tough-on-crime” laws are part of the reason we have mass incarceration as we know it today - and now there’s a new problem.
We should all be able to agree that mass incarceration and the policies that got us here are a BAD thing. That’s why it makes no sense that Pennsylvania State Representative Todd Stephens wants to bring them back when the state has basically banned this type of policy.
He wants possession of a firearm by prohibited persons to be punishable with a five year mandatory sentence via a new bill. There’s plenty of evidence and research that shows mandatory minimums are not only racially biased, but they also don’t work in general.
Even at the federal level during the Obama Administration, there was an effort to address the racist harms of mandatory minimums with efforts like the Fair Sentencing Act. Any effort to bring them back isn’t about reducing crime, because we know they’re ineffective.
When you hear about any politician like Representative Todd Stephens trying to bring back stale policies like mandatory minimums, it’s less about fixing a problem and more about punishing people - and those people are disproportionately Black. Crime can be fixed with stronger communities, not harsher punishment.