POV: Since When Should a Misdemeanor Carry a Death Sentence?

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Boston University




In Massachusetts, you can be sentenced to up to two-and-a-half years for shoplifting. Admittedly, you are unlikely to receive this sentence upon your first conviction, but if this is one of multiple shoplifting convictions or you violated probation, you may end up serving time in jail. The same is true for driving without a license, and certainly for drug possession. A first charge of distribution of any type of drug near a park or school means a two-year mandatory minimum sentence. As a matter of fact, about 27 percent of male and 36 percent of female prisoners in Massachusetts are serving time for nonviolent offenses. As we all know, incarceration affects people of color differently. In Massachusetts, African Americans are eight times more likely to be incarcerated, and Latinos four times more likely, than their white counterparts.

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