Author Topic: Ending Drug War Won't End Mass Incarceration-But It's a Necessary First Step  (Read 1437 times)

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Offline SubliminallyOveranalyzed

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August 12, 2015 - By Daniel Robelo

The United States has reached a turning point in its epidemic of mass incarceration. A consensus is growing across the country – from the White House and both aisles of Congress to cities and states of all sizes – that enough is enough. The nation is finally engaged in a frank discussion of how to get out of this mess.

The momentum is heartening but not nearly enough. We’ve only scratched the surface – feel-good rhetoric, a few dozen pardons – while leaving the larger, unjust, racist system intact.

We must do more. Ending the war on drugs – a major driver of incarceration – is crucial. Nearly half a million people, whose most serious offense was a drug law violation (which by definition means nonviolent) are incarcerated today. That’s ten times the number in 1980. The burden of incarceration falls overwhelmingly on black people and Latinos, although rates of drug use and sales are scarcely different among people of different races and ethnicities.

Here are three steps that local, state and federal governments can take to dismantle the drug war:

Eliminate mandatory minimum sentences. Half of the federal prison population is incarcerated for a drug offense. Most weren’t drug kingpins, but rather low-level sellers, couriers, middlemen. For many, there’s no good public safety reason to keep them behind bars for lengthy periods. As President Obama suggested last month, we need to get rid of draconian sentencing laws entirely.
Eliminate criminal penalties for possession of all drugs. Almost 50,000 people are admitted to state prisons each year for drug possession. Tens of thousands more languish in local jails, either awaiting trial or serving a sentence. Instead of arresting and incarcerating them, let’s give them a citation and offer them treatment if needed. That’s what Portugal started doing nearly 15 years ago. The sky didn’t fall – but rates of drug arrests, incarcerations, disease and overdose deaths did. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch argued, “Sentencing reform is fine, [but] decriminalizing drugs would be better” – a policy that’s supported by the American Public Health Association, World Health Organization, Human Rights Watch and many others.
Some cities and states are already moving in this direction. Californians approved a law in 2014 (Prop. 47) that changed six low-level crimes, including drug possession and petty theft, from felonies to misdemeanors – already significantly easing jail overcrowding and saving millions. Seattle, Washington, instituted an innovative program known as “Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion,” or LEAD, in which police divert people suspected of certain drug offenses (including low-level sales) to harm reduction based services instead of arresting and booking them. Several other communities have implemented LEAD or are considering it.

Eliminate probation and parole revocations for drug-related violations. More than a million people are currently on probation or parole for drug offenses. Depending on their state, many will be incarcerated or re-incarcerated for minor technical violations – commonly drug possession or failing a drug test. This also applies to the almost four million other people under correctional supervision whose original offenses did not involve drugs. Closing this revolving door is vital to turning the tide on mass incarceration.
Of course, ending the drug war will not end mass incarceration. As various commentators have noted, even if we liberated all people imprisoned for drug offenses, incarceration would persist at levels unthinkable anywhere else in the world. Other, more controversial measures must also be considered – including diverting people who sell drugs, who commit property offenses, even who commit violent crimes.

But if widely adopted, these three reforms would make a real dent in the incarceration epidemic – far more so than anything else we’ve tried to date.

Daniel Robelo is the research coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance.
You draw to yourself in this existence and in all others those qualities upon which you concentrate your attention. If you vividly concern yourself with the injustices you feel have been done you, then you attract more such experience, and if this goes on, then it will be mirrored in your next existence. It is true that in between lives there is "time" for understanding and contemplation.

Those who do not take advantage of such opportunities in this life often do not do so when it is over. Consciousness will expand. It will create. It will turn itself inside out to do so. But there is nothing outside of yourself that will force you to understand your issues or face them, now or after physical death.

The opportunity for development and knowledge is as present at this moment, in this life, as it will ever be. If you ignore day-by-day opportunities for development now, no one can force you to accept and utilize greater abilities after death, or between lives. The teachers are there in after-death experience, but there are also teachers here in your existence now.

If man paid more attention to his own subjective behavior, to those feelings of identification with nature that persistently arise, then half of the dictates of both the evolutionists and the creationists would automatically fall away, for they would appear nonsensical. It is not a matter of outlining a whole new series of methods that will allow you to increase your psychic abilities, or to remember your dreams, or to perform out-of-body gymnastics. It is rather a question or a matter of completely altering your approach to life, so that you no longer block out such natural spontaneous activity.

~Seth in TES9 (The Early Sessions Book9) by Jane Roberts - Session 510 - January 19 1970 (Seth is an energy personality essence no longer focused in physical reality for existence, as trance-channeled by author & medium Jane Roberts & her husband Robert Butts from Dec 1964 - Sep 1984 [Jane's Death])