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Drug Offenses: Treatment Versus Incarceration

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Most people have argued that the criminal justice system is locking up non-violent drug offenders and throwing away the key. Most people want to see this stop happening. Police are incarcerating many of the young minority for small, petty drug charges.

How does this help the addicted walking down the street with a bag in his pocket? This addicted person may be being your husband, brother, mother, son, daughter?  What does this do when someone isn’t ready for help but is forced into incarceration, not rehab?  Why is the system locking them up and throwing away the key?

These are the facts of what’s being done, you be the voice and speak out.  The sad truth is that the arrest rates are only on the rise.  Now is the time to act with this information.

The sentencing for non-violent drug crimes have been doing nothing but increasing lately.

In an article by and the research taken from Pew Charitable Trusts shows that… “The average prison sentence for federal drug offenders increased by 36 percent from 1980 to 2011.”

Drug offenses are on the rise.  All other criminal offenses for incarceration have decreased by up to 3 percent.

These types of sentences were supposed to act as a deterrence for the general population. This means that as a very few were supposed to be locked up for extensive periods on drug charges.  This would show the public, “No, don’t do that!” But rather than giving a deterrent effect, the drug charges are now being placed on more and more.  This is adding a stricken sense to our population that is too hefty.  Prison sentences are becoming the go-to.

The cited article claims that President Barack Obama has called for shorter sentences for nonviolent offenders. Obama claims many lives are being wasted due to, “Youthful mistakes.” This is a fair assumption when the typical offender ranges from 18-25 years old.  To add they are primarily targeting minorities.

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Taking one of the biggest prison populations for an example, in California, I will compare the life that is torn from underneath so many people’s feet along with the cost it’s being done at.

According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office of California, it costs nearly $47,000 to incarcerate an inmate for one year. As the national poverty line is roughly at $17,800 this is an insurmountable amount of taxes considering there are 2.2 million people incarcerated in the United States today.  This prison population has been rising 500% in the past thirty years.

Expenditures for inmates go to things like security ($19,663 per year), medical care ($8,768 per year), and facility operations ($4,503 per year). These expenditures are per inmate, per year.

Something has to be done about this issue on incarceration rates especially for petty non-violent drug offenses. Speak up, contact your legislature and tell them how you think it should be fixed. Every single voice matters.

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