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

431
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.
Featured

What Your Car's Color Says About Your Personality

Your color choice speaks volumes. It doesn't just emit an image for the car, it also says something about your style and personality! It's a form of self-expression. Are you confident? Are you sophisticated? Are you easy-going? Are you outgoing? Are you practical? As you're reviewing car sites for your next car purchase, what color will you opt for? Find out what certain color choices says about you!

90637

When it comes to car shopping you likely have certain preferences, including what color it should be. Your color choice speaks volumes. It doesn't just emit an image for the car, it also says something about your style and personality! It's a form of self-expression. Are you confident? Are you sophisticated? Are you easy-going? Are you outgoing? Are you practical? As you're reviewing car sites for your next car purchase, what color will you opt for? Find out what certain color choices says about you!

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

30 Songs On My Back-To-School Playlist For Walks To And From Class

Headed back to in-person classes means you need a pretty banging playlist to power you through those walks to class.

80998
Photo by Zen Chung on Pexels

I don't know about you, but I start each day off with a one-mile walk to class. I have to have good tunes flowing through my ears during those 20 minutes, not to mention the walks between classes and the walks home. So, here is my 30 song playlist to get me through this almost unfamiliar concept we call walking to class.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

Be Kind to Yourself: 8 Mental Health Tips to Try

One way you can improve your quality of life is to take care of your mental health. As a result, you'll feel less depressed and be able to enjoy spending time with friends and family more often. These mental health tips might be just what you need to forget about your problems.

47834

One way you can improve your quality of life is to take care of your mental health. As a result, you'll feel less depressed and be able to enjoy spending time with friends and family more often. These mental health tips might be just what you need to forget about your problems.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

Should You Own An SUV If You Live In A Snowy state?

There are many reasons to own an SUV. If you live in a cold state or a rural area, you will see that owning an SUV is very important.

44472

The gas and oil prices are too high to run in a smaller vehicle. You are better off with an SUV for hauling cargo and driving larger loads around the town. In addition, owning an SUV is more comfortable and safe than driving a smaller vehicle.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

Understanding Why Dog's Lick You

It is a natural instinct for dogs to lick

57598

Why do dogs lick?

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments