In 1970 there was roughly two hundred thousand people serving time in America’s state and federal prisons. Today there are currently one and a half million people incarcerated in our prisons with another seven hundred and fifty thousand prisoners in our local jails. Even though there is significantly more prisoners locked away today the crime rate is roughly the same. The department of Justice says that thirty to forty percent of present jail admissions are people involved in “victimless” crimes or crimes with out a targeted victim so the only one affected by the offenses is the culprit. Of the victimless offenders thirty one percent of them were arrested for crimes related to drugs, and around twelve percent of them are offenses related to marijuana. Considering our jails are already overcrowded and offer little help with actually helping fix a person’s drug problem these people should not even be sent to jail in the first place.
In the 1980’s legislatures in America approved stricter sentencing laws dealing with drug offenses. The feds led the way enacting the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 and the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988. Along with other requirements the laws made several mandatory minimum sentencing laws for drug related crimes and also affected Sentencing guidelines causes the judge in most drug cases to lose discretion, which is normally an essential part of the sentencing process. This is what increases the amount of people in the court system exposed to jail time. This proves that the War on drugs is a major cause for the severe “prison boom”.
A new cause should hereby be activated. That is ending this war on drugs and decriminalizing these victimless crimes related to drugs to effectively reduce populations in prisons and not sending people to prison who don’t necessarily deserve it, while also not “adversely affecting public safety, according to the findings of a study published this week by The JFA Institute, a Washington, DC criminal-justice think tank.”
The study also goes into how the Western European countries that have more liberal drug laws don’t see the violence seen in America due to drug trafficking. So not only would ending the war on drugs be the cause of more non-violent offenders out of prison and in treatment where they need to be it will help put an end to the violent offenses from even happening (also reducing prison population).
Ending this War on Drugs would be a drastic improvement. The “decriminalizing illicit drugs, along with enacting modest reforms in sentencing and parole, would” cause taxpayers to save “an estimated $20 billion per year and reduce the prison population from 1.5 million to below 700,000.”