People are wondering why crime rates are declining. Maybe because so many
criminals are locked up? I don't think the average person knows how much
drugs you have to be in possession of for it to go to federal court. It is a
lot. Take marijuana. A person would have to possess, manufacture or distribute
a minimum of 2200 lbs of marijuana in order to be charged in Federal
court(unless you possess it on federal lands). Most low level junkies and dope
smokers will never see 2200 lbs in their lifetime. The people in the Federal
system are not just some poor street addict who smokes a bowl or two. Not even
a full blown junkie just looking for their next high. They are people who
continue to sell a large amount of drugs to the low level street pushers who may
only have a pound or two of marijuana on them at any given time.
Utah is ahead of the game here with our Drug Offender Rehabilitation Act (DORA).
The problem is getting it funded is a yearly battle. I have seen the positive
benefits of this program and would like to see it implemented on a wider scale.
Finally, we are recovering from the 1970's "lock everybody up"
policies including mandatory sentencing, zero tolerance and all the draconian
measures that has resulted in our country with 5% of the world's population
holding 25% of the world's prisoners. We have more prisoners, per capita,
than Iran, Iraq and North Korea. Almost 20% of them are non-violent, low level
drug offendors. Nobody, including myself, likes drug users or drug offenders but
we can't use the prisons to house them. If they are a repeated problem, put
them on ankle monitors under house arrest, assign a probation officer and warn
them, "one more screw up and you're back in jail." It would relieve
a lot of the problem. The threat of jail for repeated minor crimes is often a
lot more effective than actually putting people there the first or even the
second time. Third time, ok, give them some jail time--but not ridiculously long
stretches. The punishment has to start fitting the crime again.
I agree that mandatory sentences often seem too harsh.I don't
agree that the Attorney General has the authority to arbitrarily decide that
the "justice" department will not enforce laws he doesn't like. Get
congress to change the law. Our government was setup with separation of powers
for very good reasons.
Finally something that makes sense comes out of the AG's office in DC.
Too keep going with the harsh unrealistic mandatory sentences, taxes will have
to be raised to build more and more Federal prisons.
I can't decide whether it's better for a child to have drug-dealing
parents or parents in jail. Maybe on a second offense they should have their
children removed, as well as the removal of leniency originally extended.