ending mass incarceration
Start writing a post
Politics

Ending Mass Incarceration Requires Ending Drug Prohibition

The myth of releasing the non-violent drug offender precludes talking about the stark truth of drug prohibition

436
Ending Mass Incarceration Requires Ending Drug Prohibition

If there's one myth that plagues the criminal justice movement it is this- the idea that if the United States stopped locking away people for small drug offenses, we could end mass incarceration. People from both ends of the political spectrum subscribe to this logic, and both parties are willing to decriminalize "low level" drug offenses.

The only problem with this thinking is that it is not true. For starters, only 16% to 20% of prisoners are in for drug offenses. Of this 20%, very few qualify for release under the current criminal justice reform movement's thinking.

The fact remains that there are not enough non-violent, first-time offenders in prison to make a significant difference in the incarceration rate.

Only .12% of federal and 3.4% of state prisoners were behind bars for possession. Over 99% of federal prisoners convicted of drug crimes have trafficking or manufacturing as their most serious charge.

The War on Drugs guarantees street violence due to the inherent violence of the black market. The tragic deaths of dealers, users, and anyone else caught up in the drug trade is the result of bad policy. Criminalization of any behavior makes that behavior dangerous and riskier.

Even if all drug offenders were to be released, that would only mean a 20% reduction in the prison population. The United States would still remain an outlier compared to other nations' incarceration rates.

In the context of mass incarceration, the swelling of our nations prison population with violent offenders is in many cases a result of the criminalization of drugs. The cost to sell, distribute, and make drugs increases the value of using violence to continue the operation. The increased cost of drugs also means that some drug abusers must commit crimes to feed their habit.

The drive in American incarceration rates can be blamed on a variety of different things. However, the enforcement of drug laws is a large driver of mass incarceration. Steps such as decriminalization, using evidence-based treatment programs, and curbing arrest of low-level drug dealers can potentially reverse the trend of mass incarceration.

The fact of the matter is that there are not enough non-violent low drug level offenders to significantly reduce the size of the prison population. By ending drug prohibition, there will be a decrease in crime. Coupled with very loose drug laws, and hopefully, the era of mass incarceration will end.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
​a woman sitting at a table having a coffee
nappy.co

I can't say "thank you" enough to express how grateful I am for you coming into my life. You have made such a huge impact on my life. I would not be the person I am today without you and I know that you will keep inspiring me to become an even better version of myself.

Keep Reading...Show less
Student Life

Waitlisted for a College Class? Here's What to Do!

Dealing with the inevitable realities of college life.

82116
college students waiting in a long line in the hallway
StableDiffusion

Course registration at college can be a big hassle and is almost never talked about. Classes you want to take fill up before you get a chance to register. You might change your mind about a class you want to take and must struggle to find another class to fit in the same time period. You also have to make sure no classes clash by time. Like I said, it's a big hassle.

This semester, I was waitlisted for two classes. Most people in this situation, especially first years, freak out because they don't know what to do. Here is what you should do when this happens.

Keep Reading...Show less
a man and a woman sitting on the beach in front of the sunset

Whether you met your new love interest online, through mutual friends, or another way entirely, you'll definitely want to know what you're getting into. I mean, really, what's the point in entering a relationship with someone if you don't know whether or not you're compatible on a very basic level?

Consider these 21 questions to ask in the talking stage when getting to know that new guy or girl you just started talking to:

Keep Reading...Show less
Lifestyle

Challah vs. Easter Bread: A Delicious Dilemma

Is there really such a difference in Challah bread or Easter Bread?

49781
loaves of challah and easter bread stacked up aside each other, an abundance of food in baskets
StableDiffusion

Ever since I could remember, it was a treat to receive Easter Bread made by my grandmother. We would only have it once a year and the wait was excruciating. Now that my grandmother has gotten older, she has stopped baking a lot of her recipes that require a lot of hand usage--her traditional Italian baking means no machines. So for the past few years, I have missed enjoying my Easter Bread.

Keep Reading...Show less
Adulting

Unlocking Lake People's Secrets: 15 Must-Knows!

There's no other place you'd rather be in the summer.

982132
Group of joyful friends sitting in a boat
Haley Harvey

The people that spend their summers at the lake are a unique group of people.

Whether you grew up going to the lake, have only recently started going, or have only been once or twice, you know it takes a certain kind of person to be a lake person. To the long-time lake people, the lake holds a special place in your heart, no matter how dirty the water may look.

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments