Pennsylvania, as well as the rest of the nation, has undergone a tremendous change in sentencing practices for the past 30 years. Policy decisions such as the introduction of the sentencing guidelines, mandatory sentences and the war on drugs have resulted in a major shift of thinking and reallocation of resources toward the increased reliance on incarceration to solve many social ills.

Legislatures and executives have taken away much of the discretion of judges and transferred much of the sentencing practices to the domain of the legislatures. They have declared the scourge of drug addiction to be a criminal problem rather than a disease and passed laws emphasizing punishment rather than treatment for addicts.

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