The idea of awarding mandatory minimum sentences has come under fire lately from federal officials and other advocates who believe it doesn’t allow the judicial system enough latitude when considering severity and other circumstances surrounding crimes — particularly drug crimes. New Jersey courts have been awarding mandatory minimum sentences since 1979, with the result being that 16,328 prisoners, or 73 percent of those in the state corrections system, are serving mandatory minimum sentences.
The median mandatory minimum term in New Jersey is five years. But 24 percent of those serving such sentences have minimum terms of 15 years or more.
A mandatory minimum term is a term that must be completed before parole will be considered. It cannot be reduced or adjusted due to earned credits through good behavior or work.