The Drug Report: A Review of America’s Disparate Possession Penalties
Criminal justice experts at Prison Fellowship, a leading advocate for justice, recently released The Drug Report: A Review of America’s Disparate Possession Penalties . The report examines penalties for drug possession for marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl, at both the State and Federal level. The study found that in 2018, there were 1.5 million arrests made for drug law violations, with simple possession accounting for over 86% of them. Based on the findings in the study, the report calls for a restorative approach for prevention of drug misuse, and to increase investments for treatment and rehabilitation in order to break the cycle of addiction.
Baku Patel at Patel Law, P.C. has been a strong advocate and supporter of state and federal legislation that would reduce our overcrowded prison population. This study determined that a vast majority of those arrested, prosecuted and incarcerated are those involving simple possession of drugs. Incarcerating addicts is an ineffective use of limited resources but also is not a long-term solution toward rehabilitating those in need. Many are from lower income levels and, of course, the most significant tragedy is that overwhelming percentage of those incarcerated for such non-violent, low level offenses are from the minority community. The racial disparity of those inmates incarcerated for non-violent offenses is an issue that must be addressed immediately. More studies such as this one from Prison Fellowship are needed to continue shining a light on this problem and work toward a solution.
Fortunately, many states have begun adopting specialty courts to address this issue, such as Drug Court. This includes Illinois, in particular Champaign, Vermilion and Macon counties all have implemented drug courts. The federal government estimates that drug courts save states $5680 to $6,208 per individual. A review of five independent meta‐analyses concluded that drug courts significantly reduce crime by an average of 8 to 26 percentage points. Well‐administered drug courts were found to reduce crime rates by as much as 35 percent, compared to traditional case dispositions. The success of drug courts has led many counties throughout the country to implement other forms of specialty courts in order to curb the cycle of incarceration, such as Veterans Court and Mental Health Court.
Link to The Drug Report: The Drug Report: A Review of America’s Disparate Possession Penalties