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Mandatory Sentencing and Firearms Violence: Evaluating an Alternative to Gun Control

Colin Loftin, Milton Heumann and David McDowall
Law & Society Review
Vol. 17, No. 2 (1983), pp. 287-318
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Law and Society Association
DOI: 10.2307/3053349
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3053349
Page Count: 32
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Mandatory Sentencing and Firearms Violence: Evaluating an Alternative to Gun Control
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Abstract

Michigan's Felony Firearm Statute (Gun Law) imposed a two-year mandatory add-on sentence for defendants convicted of possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony. The Law was widely advertised with proponents claiming that it would introduce greater equity in sentences, ensure certainty of punishment, and decrease violent crime in the state. We examine the processing of these Gun Law cases in Detroit Recorders Court, as well as the effects of the law on crime, and find that most of the goals of the Law's proponents are not met. Notwithstanding a rigid prosecutorial policy which prohibited plea bargaining in these gun cases, alternative mechanisms developed to mitigate the Law's effects and, in most instances, to preserve the "going rate" for various crime categories. Similarly, using an interrupted time-series model, we are unable to uncover effects of the law, or the associated publicity campaign, on violent crime.

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