Excessive Sentencing

Bucking the Trend

Despite the trend in public opinion away from excessive sentencing, Judge Forrest gave Ross the maximum short of the death penalty for all non-violent charges. This kind of unreasonable sentence, especially for a non-violent, first-time offender, is in opposition to many in Congress; the pope; the Sentencing Reform Act; and an ever- increasing number of organizations, US citizens and people worldwide.  It is responsible for the dramatic spike in mass incarceration in this country and the sharp increase in the number of non-violent people like Ross serving excessive time.

No second chances

According to a study [PDF] by the Sentencing Project, until the 1990’s life-sentenced prisoners were released after a decade if they demonstrated “good behavior.” Now a life sentence literally means life in prison, or as the pope calls it, a death sentence in disguise. The number of US inmates serving life keeps hitting new records. As of 1987 and the drug war, the possibility of parole in the federal system was eliminated. There is no second chance, opportunity to make restitution, or any hope at all.

It is sentences like the one given Ross by Judge Forrest that causes the US to lead the world in incarceration of its citizens. And it is sentences like this that sets precedent for this horror to continue.

Read also: Sentencing Disparity