Crime and Punishment

ABA report: Abolish mandatory minimum prison terms

A report from the American Bar Association says many get tough approaches to crime don't work and some should even be abolished. The study says mandatory minimum sentences for small time drug offenders are among the ideas that should be done away with.

It says such laws leave little room to consider differences between crimes and criminals. The report finds that more people are behind bars for longer terms, but it's unclear if the country is safer as a result. It recommends reserving longer prison sentences for criminals who pose the greatest danger to society, and who commit the most serious crimes.

Alternatives to prison terms could include drug treatment for less serious crimes. The ABA is the nation's largest lawyers' group, with more than 400-thousand members.