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Comparative Study of the Preventive Effects of Mandatory Sentencing Laws for Gun Crimes

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology Volume: 83 Issue: 2 Dated: (Summer 1992) Pages: 378-394
Date Published
17 pages
Case studies concerned with estimating the preventive effects of mandatory sentencing on firearm offenses indicate that mandatory sentencing laws substantially reduce the number of homicides, but their effect on assault and robbery is not conclusive.
The analysis is based on six case studies which monitored the effects of mandatory sentencing on violent crime in Detroit, Jacksonville, Tampa, Miami, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. Key features of mandatory sentencing laws were the same in each area: each required judges to impose a specific sentence on defendants convicted of an offense involving a gun; mitigating devices, such as probation, suspended sentences, and parole were prohibited; and all States used advertising campaigns involving radio and television commercials, posters, bumper stickers, and billboards to communicate the message that offenders would receive additional punishment if they used a gun to commit a crime. Data pooled from all case studies provided strong support for the preventive effect model, at least for homicides. Robbery and assault did not reflect any preventive effect of mandatory sentencing. The case studies indicate the desirability of using replications to identify variation in the effects of innovation in different areas, since features of the local setting affect the magnitude of preventive efforts. 28 footnotes and 3 tables

Date Published: January 1, 1992