Mandatory Minimum Sentences:

Are They Being Imposed and Who Is Receiving Them?

T-GGD-93-40: Published: Jul 28, 1993. Publicly Released: Jul 28, 1993.

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GAO discussed mandatory minimum sentences for offenders of certain crimes, focusing on: (1) whether offenders convicted of certain crimes received mandatory minimum sentences; (2) the influence of local prosecutorial practices on mandatory minimum sentencing decisions; (3) the relationship between federal sentencing guidelines and mandatory minimum sentences; and (4) characteristics of offenders that receive mandatory minimum sentences. GAO noted that: (1) 85 percent of offenders convicted of mandatory minimum sentence crimes receive at least the statutory minimum sentence; (2) offenders receive less than the mandatory minimum sentence because prosecutors file substantial assistance motions allowing judges to sentence below the minimum sentence; (3) whether prosecutors bring mandatory minimum sentence charges depends on the evidence, plea bargaining agreements, district charging practices and policies, and prosecution thresholds; (4) convicted offenders are sentenced under federal sentencing guidelines unless the sentence is shorter than the mandatory minimum sentence; (5) most offenders are male and between the ages of 21 and 40; and (6) other offender characteristics vary from district to district.

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