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belief that the war on drugs was ending was not among the reasons for repeal of mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses in the early 1970s.


*** In 1970, Congress overhauled the federal drug control laws. Included in this overhaul was a general repeal of the mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses. The mandatory penalty provisions of the Continuing Criminal Enterprise offenses remained intact. The authors of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 expressed a general concern that "increasingly longer sentences that had been legislated in the past had not shown the expected overall reduction in drug law violations." S. Rep. No. 613, 91st Cong., 1st Sess. (Dec. 16, 1969). Moreover, there was general concern that "severe drug laws, specifically as applied to marihuana, have helped create a serious clash between segments of the youth generation and the Government" and have "contributed to the broader problem of alienation of youth from the general society." Id. As a result, the 1970 Act revised the penalty structure of federal drug law. "The main thrust of the change in the penalty provisions [was] to eliminate all mandatory minimum sentences for drug law violations except for a special class of professional criminals."Id.

The legislative history of the 1970 Act shows that Congress was concerned that mandatory minimum penalties hampered the "process of rehabilitation of offenders" and infringed "on the judicial function by not allowing the judge to use his discretion in individual cases." Id. Some members of Congress also argued that the mandatory minimum penalties reduced the deterrent effect of the law by reducing the consistency with which the drug laws were applied.

Added 4/7/2013 12:40:38 PM
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