Should NH eliminate some mandatory minimum sentences? - 249 responses

Mar 26, 2015

Minimum mandatory sentences have been touted as an important way of deterring crime, but at what cost? Opponents of the practice cite overcrowded NH prisons that place a hefty burden on taxpayers as an important reason to consider eliminating some or all of these requirements. A push to see some of these mandates removed found its way to the NH House budget. On March 26, the Live Free or Die Alliance (LFDA) asked its 55,000 Facebook members to weigh in, posing the question, “Should NH eliminate some mandatory minimum sentences?”

The response was strongly supportive, with 86% directly answering the question expressing favor for eliminating some or all mandatory minimum sentences and only 14% opposing the change. Forty-two percent of total respondents opted not to give a yes or no response, instead addressing their comments to broader issues. In sum, the LFDA received 98 specific comments and 151 concurrences for a total of 249 citizen responses.

Supporters of the change argued that mandatory minimum sentences  were too strict. “Every case is unique and should be judged and sentenced that way,” one commenter wrote. “Our judges don’t need their hands tied by these laws,” another argued. “Mandatory sentences do not deter crime,” a third pointed out. 

Some opponents objected to the location of the provision. “This doesn’t belong in a budget bill,” one said. Others argued in favor of maintaining the minimum sentences. “If anything, I would make laws even tougher on those that continue to put the public at risk,” one commenter wrote. “Minimum sentences were put in place for a reason,” another pointed out. 

Those addressing their comments to broader issues discussed NH and US incarceration rates in general, proposing suggestions and alternatives. “I think something needs to be done to correct the overcrowding in prisons,” one respondent said. “How about releasing all the nonviolent drug offenders?” another posed. 

Click here for the full Facebook discussion of this question. 


JBenson's picture
Jacquelyn Benson
- Kensington

Tue, 12/29/2015 - 9:13am

A bill that would repeal all mandatory minimum sentences in the state, HB 605 (2015), was recommended for passage by the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee after amendments which limited its scope to armed career criminals, habitual offenders, and driving with a suspended or revoked license. 

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