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.
Mill(er)ing Mandatory Minimums: What Federal Lawmakers Should Take from Miller v. Alabama,
78 Mo. L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.law.missouri.edu/mlr/vol78/iss4/7