Mass Incarceration Timeline


First Mandatory Minimum Laws


Boggs Act of 1951 made a first time weed possession offense a minimum of two to ten years. This started our abusive system of mandatory minimums for harder drugs down the line, leaving judges hands tied - forcing them to ignore the circumstances and just issue the minimum sentence.

Nixon's War on Drugs


Nixon cracked down on drug users, which mostly just punished hippies and black people. He wanted to bring down the anti-war community as well as the black panthers and other African-Americans who were speaking out against the injustices against their communities.

This was the beginning of mass incarceration of non violent drug offenders and the trendy political stance of being tough on crime.

Reagan's War on Drugs


Reagan took Nixon's war on drugs and went one step further. Saw a crack cocaine epidemic in poor black communities and publicized it greatly, making it seem like a huge deal.
This started the huge discrepancy between crack (poor black man's drug) and cocaine (rich white man's drug).

Reagan's Anti-Drug Abuse Act


Law put funds towards new prisons, drug education, and treatment. But its main result was to create mandatory minimum sentences (specifically on crack).

Dukakis and the "Weekend Pass"


Attack ad aired against Democrat Dukakis accusing him of being soft on crime.
**Willie Horton, a convicted murderer who stabbed a gas attendant 19 times, failed to return after a weekend furlough in Massachusetts, and committed robbery and rape.

Dukakis got dragged in the election - suddenly being "tough on crime" was trendy for everyone.

Beginning of 3 Strike Laws


Amount of people being incarcerated skyrocketed because many non violent criminals were getting extremely long sentences.