Mass Incarceration Timeline

Events

First Mandatory Minimum Laws

1951

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

1971

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

1982

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

1986

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"

1988

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

1994

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