Good Example Of Debunking The Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Laws Argument Argumentative Essay
Mandatory minimum sentencing laws are punitive measures against certain crimes commonly used in the United States. Since their introduction in the 1960s, many controversies have revolved around their effectiveness in curbing crime. Issues & Controversies, a blog that presents debates on the most heated topics delves into the issue. The author presents his views on the argument of whether Congress should repeal mandatory minimum sentencing laws. He sheds light to the audience on the actual state of prisons at the moment and government expenditure to maintain these facilities. The author describes the processes that led to the enactment of the law and the changing opinions over the years. Through his presentation, the audiences stand a better chance to evaluate the benefits and demerits of mandatory minimum sentencing laws. In this analysis, the effectiveness of the author’s argument is evaluated. The rhetorical and argumentative techniques used by the author are analyzed thus presenting an impartial view over the matter. By the end of the analysis, the reader will be in a position to make a sound judgment on the mandatory minimum sentencing laws argument.
Authors should be careful how they present their ideas to the audience without eliciting objection. Argumentation is tricky since people often believe their views to be correct. In an attempt to provide an intellectual approach to argumentation, philosophers adopted three types of arguments. As a result, most authors use Rogerian, Toulmin or Aristotelian arguments when passing information. They also augment their views with rhetoric to create a stronger impression (Aristotle 6). Rhetoric writing, according to Mauk and Metz, is the use of the most effective strategies to influence thought (7). The technique embraces three major aspects; ethos, pathos, and logos. Ethos refers to the attributes that present the author’s credibility or authority while pathos describes the emotions an author uses to appeal the audience. On the other hand, logos are the use of logical appeal tools, like data, to support an argument.
Rogerian argumentation derives its name from Carl Rodgers, who developed the negotiating strategy. In this strategy, writers hold back the audience’s judgment until the end of the presentation. Authors first seek to understand opposing views before they can create a bridge to them (Mauk and Metz 59). Toulmin argumentation, developed by Stephen Toulmin, entails evaluating hidden assumptions often called warrants. (Mauk and Metz 68). The philosopher developed a strategy composed of claims, grounds and warrants to support an argument. On the other hand, authors use Aristotelian argument to drive the audience to a particular point of view (Mauk and Metz 75).
Deep in his argument, the author presented the actions taken by previous governments to reduce prison overcrowding. Commissions assembled by former presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson are said to have found that long incarcerations did not deter drug users from the vice. The Commission went ahead to recommend to the Congress in 1968 that “give a large enough measure of discretion to the courts (Issues & Controversies 3)” Courts discretion was further enhanced under President Richard Nixon when laws for mandatory maximum sentences were enacted in place of mandatory minimum sentences (Issues & Controversies 3).
In an attempt to create a sense of belonging to the audience, the author uses examples of federal and state legislations enacted to reduce overcrowding. The Obama administration is reported to have countered unfair imprisonment among the whites and black Americans. The ratio of imprisonment period was reduced from 100:1 to 18:1 for offenses of trafficking crack cocaine and powder cocaine respectively (Issues & Controversies 5). All states that have enacted more lenient laws are also highlighted in the argument. Connecticut, North Dakota, Texas, Vermont and Kentucky are cited as examples to create the sense of belonging (Issues & Controversies 6).
The argument is based majorly on the Toulmin argument approach. In the introductory remarks, the author made the claim that the United States holds the highest number of world’s prisoners. The high number of prisoners, he argued, is the result of mandatory minimum sentences. To support this claim, the author presented data about the blooming of prisoners by about 800 percent from the 1970s to date (Issues & Controversies 2). He further presented the processes through which the law of mandatory minimum imprisonment was enacted to warrant his claim. By use of strong credentials and phrases, the author was able to back his statements. For instance, he speaks of ‘tough-on-crime’ and ‘smart-on-crime’ to describe the different measures taken against drug dealers (Issues & Controversies 2).
Besides being Toulmin in nature, the author incorporated Rogerian aspects in the argument. He first recognized the views of both supporters and disputers to the argument on prison overcrowding. Throughout the body of the argument, the author distanced from taking a particular point of view. He only presents facts for the readers to draw their conclusion. Readers get into more confusion at the end of the argument when the author further elaborates the sides taken by both sides (Issues & Controversies 7). He ends the argument by exploring the uncertainty of the sentencing reform (Issues & Controversies 8).
Overall the author has a persuasive argument. By presenting evidence for his side of argument, the author lures audiences to see the problems stemming from mandatory minimum sentencing laws. However, the author is biased as he overlooks the benefit these laws bring to the society. Moreover, only the views of government officials in support of the argument are presented. Additionally, only reforms in a fraction of the 52 states are presented. The majority of states could, therefore, be opposed to the reforms. Having considered all the writing techniques used by the author, all arguments presented in this analysis are relevant.
Although the author of the argument did considerable work, his presentation lacked essential aspects. The author misled the audience by presenting a one-sided argument. However, the analysis of the rhetoric and argumentation techniques used by the author places the reader in a better position to make a more conclusive stand.
Aristotle, Rhetoric. CA, Courier Corporation, 2012. Print.
Issues & Controversies. “Mandatory Minimum Sentences.”. InfoBase Learning, 11 Nov. 2013. Web. 21 Apr. 2015. <http://icof.infobaselearning.com/recordurl.aspx?wid=95629&ID=6291>.
Mauk, John and Metz, John, Inventing Arguments, Boston, Cengage Learning, 2015. Print.