Mandatory Minimums and the War on Drugs

In David Boonin (ed.), Palgrave Handbook of Philosophy and Public Policy. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 51-62 (2018)
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Mandatory minimum sentencing provisions have been a feature of the U.S. justice system since 1790. But they have expanded considerably under the war on drugs, and their use has expanded considerably under the Trump Administration; some states are also poised to expand drug-related mandatory minimums further in efforts to fight the current opioid epidemic. In this paper I outline and evaluate three prominent arguments for and against the use of mandatory minimums in the war on drugs—they appeal, respectively, to proportionality, consistency, and efficiency. I ultimately defend the view that the use of mandatory minimums in the war on drugs is unjust.

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Daniel Wodak
University of Pennsylvania


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