Mary Price


In this Article, I make the case that, while the robust proportionality principles informing Miller and similar cases are unlikely to translate into the end of mandatory minimum sentencing by way of the Eighth Amendment (at least anytime soon), embracing sentencing proportionality is the key for lawmakers who are – or should be – addressing the unsustainable growth in the federal prison population as a distinct threat to public safety. Politicians who support mandatory minimums have been immune over the years to the many reasoned arguments about how unjust those sentences are and what costs they pose to families and communities. Mandatory minimum sentences have been touted as necessary to keep the public safe, and support for these sentences has been seen as politically expedient. Even empirical arguments demonstrating that getting rid of mandatory sentencing will not harm public safety have fallen on deaf ears. We grew a criminal justice system addicted to solving social and public safety problems with incarceration and we combined that system with a long-simmering distrust of the judiciary, thereby creating mandatory minimums that dominate the sentencing field, directly and indirectly, through their sentencing guideline proxies.

Included in

Law Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.