War on Drugs Policy Has Not Been Working!

War on Drugs Policy Has Not Been Working!
Posted by FoM on February 16, 1999 at 09:57:10 PT
A Drug Warrior's personal letter to the editor!
Bill Janklow has recently proposed that everyone caught with any amount of any drug in South Dakota serve a minimum of 30 days in the State penitentiary. 
The American Bar Association, which I assume Gov. Janklow still belongs to, has released a report stating that the War on Drugs policy has not been working, an opinion many federal judges have expressed. We currently have about 1.8 million people in prison, half a million more than China. Since the mid 1970s, our per capita incarceration rate has quadrupled. Drug use appears to have remained the same during these two decades, while violent crime has decreased 20% since 1991. The original intent of the tough drug laws was to nail drug "kingpins". According to the FBI, approximately 695,000 people were arrested for marijuana in 1997. Most of those arrests were for possession (less that 1 ounce). Mandatory sentencing for drug crimes removes discretion from local judges, and creates a whole set of new problems, as California, Florida and New York have discovered. Michigan has softened its long-standing mandatory sentencing laws because of those problems. Other research shows that rehabilitation has a higher success rate than imprisonment for crimes related to substance abuse. Any good research demands that ALL aspects of a question be examined. However, ideology, politics and economics have obscured the issue, and have made open debate a matter of fear for those on the opposing side. Before we create more laws and invest more money into our prison system, I would ask that our representatives take a long hard, balanced and critical look at this proposal. 
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Comment #1 posted by Jeff Willman on April 13, 2000 at 23:24:01 PT:
Drug possesion sentences
  I think that anyone who posses ANY illicit drug should be prosecuted and a mandatory prison sentence given. I have seen so many people`s lives ruined by drugs, and you can count on a majority of people that possesses even marijuana should automatically be sent to prison. It should not matter what the judge imposes, because many are too lenient. It is a fact that marijuana users will eventually end up using cocaine, methamphetamine and other substances. maybe these offenders will realize that once confined for a tiem , it just isn`t wirth the trouble to use drugs again. 
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