Keith Richburg writes about this in the Washington Post today. Other countries seeking to "crack down" on crime by mandating prison sentences would do well to consider the US experience.
More cautionary news from the US
United States public officials are reconsidering sentencing policies, driven by the increasingly high cost implications of current laws and practices. Mandatory sentencing laws, including Three Strikes legislation adopted in a number of states, take discretion away from judges and require prison sentences (often quite lengthy) be served.