Many different states have begun sending nonviolent drug offenders to various kinds of drug treatment program the state offers. By doing this, it has significantly reduced the problems with overcrowding. If an individual is arrested and charged with simple possession of a drug and no other crime is being commented, then this person is doing no harm to anyone else. They should be given the opportunity to try and make a change in their life and beat the addiction. Instead, if this person is thrown into jail, they are still going to be an addict with a criminal record now and will not be able to be a contributing member of society. (Everett 1 ).
The United States has the world's highest incarceration rate. With five percent of the world's population, our country houses nearly twenty-five percent of the world's reported prisoners. Currently there are approximately two million people in American prisons or jails. Since 1984 the prison population for drug offenders has risen from ten percent to now over thirty percent of the total prison population. Federal prisons were estimated to hold 179,204 sentenced inmates in 2007; 95,446 for drug offenses. State prisons held a total of 1,296,700 inmates in 2005; 253,300 for drug offenses. Sixty percent of the drug offenders in prisons are nonviolent and were purely in prison because of drug offenses (Drug War Facts). The question then arises,
The drug war and racial profiling is a huge cause to mass incarceration. Vanita Gupta from the New York times wrote, “in 2003 I represented dozens of African-American residents in Tulia, Tex., who had been convicted after a botched drug sting. Jason Jerome Williams, a 22-year-old with no prior criminal record, had been sentenced to 45 years in prison for four sales of an eighth of an ounce of cocaine…, Others accepted plea deals to try to avoid such lengthy prison terms.” I do not think that drugs are okay to have, be sold, or to be under the influence of. But I do think that all of these sentences are way to long for these people. These are the sentences’ of those that commit way worse crimes like maybe killing someone or endangering some one else’s’ life.
There has been debate over whether non-violent drug offenders belong in prison. Some believe all drug offenders should be put in prison, others believe that it depends on circumstances, and, still others believe only violent drug offenders should be incarcerated. Overcrowding is one point of contention. It seems as though the slightest infraction can land a person in prison. Violence is rampant, whether inmate versus inmate or inmate versus guard. Rehabilitation or education is practically non-existent, unless an inmate teaching another inmate how to commit the ‘perfect’ crime is counted. Evidence shows being in prison does little to rehabilitate an inmate. Clearly, the system does not work.
Because the current polices on crime in society obviously do not work and fail to deter the criminal offender form committing further offenses but instead of automatically sentencing the drug offender to long prison sentences that does not serve the inmate, society, or the taxpayer. Instead the focus should be on requiring the drug addicted offender to attend mandatory substance abuse treatment as well as other rehabilitative processes that would enable the drug offender to successfully reintegrate back into society as well as
Another downside to the incarceration method of dealing with drug offenders is the fact that a social inequality is formed once they are released from prison. Former inmates are treated less than normal non convict citizens making it hard for them to find decent housing, sufficient paying jobs, and people in which to form meaningful relations with. A lack of these things can bring them back to a performing criminal acts, going farther than just substance abuse in order to make a living that they can’t do with a legitimate job. Another major impact that mass incarceration is having on society in the United States is in the political sector as felons are often stripped of their voting rights. Of course this can be seen as negative or positive depending on your political views, but the fact remains that with a large amount of the population being unable to vote outcomes in elections could be much different (Moroney).
I believe the War on Drugs continues to be a major issue for this country for a while, but that doesn’t mean we should be seeing the same people in and out of prison. I believe we need to create programs within the criminal justice system to help individuals become successful and get drugs far away from them. Group therapy may be a start for some of these individuals. They can talk about why they became
The second thing we must look at is mandatory sentencing. I agree that we should have mandatory sentencing. You can read different studies that it does not work and it takes power away from judges. Sometimes trial rates and sentencing delays occur because of mandatory sentencing. Just think of how many repeat offenders we would have if it was not in place. I do think that it is somewhat of a deterrent for the small time users on the street. Research has shown that it is the low-level street dealers, mules and addicts that this affects most, but if we didn’t start with them then where? You must punish the user just as much as the dealer or “kingpins”. The dealers would not have any business if it was not for the users and if we can get to them easier than the main dealers, than I am all for mandatory sentencing.
Eventually, the government is going to realize that they are wasting money and putting people’s lives in danger. Overcrowded prisons are a threat to everyone involved. To alleviate the situation, correctional institutions need to downsize inmate populations. I believe one of the main reasons prisons are overcrowded is due to mandatory minimum sentencing. The U.S has very strict sentencing guidelines when it comes to sentencing. According to Hooker and Hirsh, “A felony conviction generally, by law, means a term of mandatory incarceration. An accused faces mandatory sentencing if he/she has any past felony conviction, or if he/she is accused of being a repetitive offender. As to the former, any past conviction counts, no matter how old” (Berlatsky 94-95). Hooker and Hirsh follow this claim up with the perfect example, “As to the latter, one would become a repetitive offender if he were to sell a marijuana cigarette on one day, and repeat that act the next day. All these trigger mandatory sentences at conviction” (Berlatsky 95). This become somewhat of a never ending circle for such a small petty crime. Which brings me to nonviolent drug users.
Currently, drug courts have been proven to be successful at reducing recidivism of offenders. In the United States there are about 120,000 people receiving help in order to rehabilitate them and to try to reduce the chances of recidivism (Office of National Drug Control Policy, 2011). These programs require individuals to participate in the programs for a minimum of one year. During this year the individuals are required to appear in court and be drug tested at
The United States Correctional System is often challenged as to whether it wants to rehabilitate drug offenders or punish them, and because of this it mostly does neither. Even though drug abuse and drug trafficking are widely spread national issues, the mental, social, and economic costs of "healing" through incarceration are only making the "disease" worse. Never before have more prisoners been locked up on drug offenses than today. Mixed with the extremely high risks of today's prison environment, the concept of incarceration as punishment for drug offenders cannot be successful. Without the correct form of rehabilitation through treatment within Michigan's Correctional System, drug
There are groups of people in the criminal justice system who considers drug addiction a personal issue, not a criminal one. This could not be further from the truth; drug abuse is illegal and should be treated as such. It is a catalyst for many crimes seen today from mugging to murder. If the numbers of those who abuse drugs are reduced, the amount of crimes associated with the addiction are also reduced. Not only will crime levels be reduced, most of those who undergo treatment tend to be better prepared to do more with their lives and not re-offend.
One of the most profound problems that plagues our society is drug addiction. With drug addiction comes those who offend and have run-ins with the law. Our country deals with these drug-addicted offenders by placing them in jails for a year or longer, only to have them come back out to society when their sentence is over. They are still drug-addicts and so they return to the street only to commit yet another crime. From here the cycle of crime, arrest, jail, and return to society continues, solving absolutely nothing. Therefore, placing drug-addicted offenders in jails fails to confront the major problem at hand which is that of the drug abuse. If drug-addicted offenders were placed in drug treatment centers instead of being incarcerated,
Drugs are a huge problem in the US there are hundreds of people currently addicted to drugs in some states alone and we are trying to solve this problem and whenever a drug addict is caught they are usually sent to prison, tons of people sent to prison when it's not even the best option. Currently, people are completely unaware that rehab is a much better option than prison for drug offenders because it is both economically superior and helps addicts reintegrate into society.