Ending the Drug War Won't End Mass Incarceration - But It's a Necessary First Step
The United States has reached a turning point in its epidemic of mass incarceration.17 Aug 2015
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 offence 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.
The Drug Policy Alliance have outlined three steps that local, state and federal governments can take to dismantle the drug war:
1. Eliminate mandatory minimum sentences.
2. Eliminate criminal penalties for possession of all drugs.
3. Eliminate probation and parole revocations for drug-related violations.
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