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The War on Drugs - and the results of it A war against drugs, or against families?

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  #1  
Old 10-02-2002, 08:18 AM
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Default Time to revisit costly policy of locking up drug offenders

09/29/2002 - Updated 10:37 PM ET

Time to revisit costly policy of locking up drug offenders

Spending billions in taxpayers' money each year to keep drug offenders locked up in prison has long been considered a smart investment in public safety.

So smart, in fact, that the assumption supports a costly incarceration system in which the number of federal and state drug offenders imprisoned has surged during the past decade from 40,000 to 453,000. As a result, prison construction became one of the hot growth industries.

But at a time when state budgets have been hard hit by the recession, a new study raises questions about the wisdom of some states' prison spending. According to The Sentencing Project, a group favoring prison alternatives for drug offenders, three-fourths of the $5 billion a year spent imprisoning drug convicts goes to confine people who've never committed a violent crime.

A few states have started questioning old anti-drug policies, but too many others remain wedded to costly past practices that ignore new facts. Based on Justice Department records and surveys, The Sentencing Project finds that:

74% of those in state prisons for drug offenses have no convictions for violence.
27% have been convicted of simple drug possession, not for selling or even intending to sell.
58% have no history of either violence or high-level drug dealing.
Yet under some state laws, non-violent offenders are serving 15 years or more at a minimum cost of $50,000 for each new prison cell and $20,000 a year for each inmate.

The states with the toughest penalties haven't budged from the inflexible approaches of a generation ago. Back then, as soaring illegal drug use fanned public fears, the popular notion was that long sentences would scare people into avoiding drugs. New York, for example, made low-level drug offenses as serious as rape and manslaughter, good for 15 years to life. That's still the law, the most severe in the nation.

Slowly, though, more than a dozen states are adopting creative alternatives that save money. The Sentencing Project suggests a large number of drug offenders could be candidates for mandatory treatment programs or other community-based sanctions.

In California, state officials say a voter-initiated law offering non-violent offenders treatment options has already helped thousands and saved $6.7 million in prison expenses. The state estimates that every $1 spent on treatment for substance abuse saves $7 in reduced crime and health costs.

A similar program in Arizona was credited with keeping more than 2,600 people out of costly prison cells in its first year alone.

Encouraged by federal grants, hundreds of communities have established "drug courts" in the past decade to force offenders into treatment for their addiction. Initial studies indicate the treatment cuts the number of repeat offenders by 50% to 90%.

Yet in the current budget crunch, some drug courts are being shut down for short-term savings. And despite strong public support for lighter sentences for minor drug offenses -71% in a recent Hart Associates poll - efforts to tinker with old laws bogged down in partisan posturing this year in a number of states, including New York.

Fresh thinking on the issue by budget-conscious state politicians can spring taxpayers from the long sentence of paying the bills for a policy that serves no one's interest.


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Old 10-02-2002, 08:28 AM
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...seriously!!! Although I'm a LITTLE biased on this subject hahahaha
Eddie says all the time 1/2 serious, 1/2 joking...."no need to waste any more $ on me...I'm SO rehabilitated"
haha
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Old 10-02-2002, 07:56 PM
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Robert is in for violation of parole- tested positive for opiates, and in turn is doing a total of 8 months locked up. He didn't hurt anyone, he didn't sell it to anyone, he just has a problem and asked the MDOC for help. (nice help eh?) I think after the first few weeks of being locked up, the remainder of the time is for nothing. They say they are rehabilitating them in prison, well, I don't really agree with that. I definitely think that Robert needed to be locked up to actually "detox" off the drugs, but then I think he should have been sent to a serious inpatient rehab. Where he is now, he is just wasting time. Locking up a dealer and locking up a user, I think, are two completely different things. If Robert is going to use again on the outside, whether he is let out now, or let out in 5 years, isn't going to make a difference. In my little ol' opinion, if shooting a drug into your vein and facing death every day of your life isn't going to scare you, jail isn't going to either. Treatment not incarceration.
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Old 10-02-2002, 10:29 PM
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Look it's cheaper for states to house them in prison than to put them in rehabs. Look at all the money they save! Yeah, let's all just say they are all criminals; every state has criminals! That way we can hide the issue of a drug problem in our state. They know if they admit there is a problem then they'd have to address it-- they know they won't win! If we make it horrible in prison maybe they will all realize they don't want to come back and they will cure themselves!What a tidy little solution to the problem.
Yes, it SUCKS! yeah, what's happening with Bush's daughter? bet if it were my son in rehab found with "something" his *ss would be in jail/prison. Wait, he is in prison...and the judge did't want to here about his drug problems!! D*nm, wrong last name.I live in one of the 3 largest drug cities in Florida, you'd be suprised--I was! Sorry venting agian.cl
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Old 10-03-2002, 01:58 PM
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Don't be sorry...it is frustrating!...and you're right it COMPLETELY depends on who you are.
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Old 10-10-2002, 05:50 PM
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If you fnd this is a non-sense, tell me what is the imprisonment of FOREIGN citizens for long sentences, when it is a fact that they will be deported and most probably will never come back to the US ! There is no interest in his rehabilitation, no reinsertion in any community, no half-way house, no furloghs, just stay in prison wasting resources. And they are allowed to re-enter in the US in 5 years. What for ?? Why not offering them a permanent deportation, or a transfer to a prison in their country ? My son commited the Big Mistake of his life pretending to be e "mule" (drug courier, non-violent, no victim, first time, full repentance and cooperation). I agree that a US prison is far better and safer than an Argentine prison, but this could be convenient for us, and not for the US tax-payer. Anyway, my son cries for a transfer to his country, close to family and not alone 6,000 miles away waiting for a deportation. But the US DOJ will not transfer him, because there is " no international treaty in effect".

Un abrazo,
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Old 10-10-2002, 05:59 PM
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Jeni I agree, this is the case with both of my sons, they just use different drugs.
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Old 10-11-2002, 09:39 AM
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You're so right Andres...but the state's want the $ for the prisoner.
...also I must admit Eddie sold-didn't use. I guess some would say he deserves a stiffer sentence or something-but seriously he's SUCH a small fish in the game. The sentence for such a thing is just ridiculous to me. He's serving 4 w/a 2 on a 5th degree charge!!!!
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Old 10-11-2002, 09:47 PM
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The ecstasy of the non-sense : Ricardo, another Argentinean who my son had met in his first months in the Federal Detention Center in Miami, had served a short sentence 9 years ago in the US, then deported. 5 years later he went to USA for a vacation with his family, spent some days in Orlando, enjoyed the stay and came back to Argentina. He was convinved that nothing was wrong, since he was admitted simply by the exhibition of his Argentina Passport.

Approx. one year later, he went to USA again to visit his parents (legal residents) in Miami, again without need for a visa because all Argentineans were allowed multiple entries. He was arrested at the airport for .. ILLEGAL REENTRY. Am I crazy ? Illegal reentry is when you innocently show your passport and say "Good morning" to the INS officer at the airport, arriving in a regular flight ??

The problem was that the previous time, the officer did not notice that he was not allowed. Then they said "the other time you may have entered unnoticed, but this time you are arrested because you don't have a permission from the Attorney General"

To make the story short, Ricardo was sentenced to 57 months in a Federal prison and will be released November 2004 considering good time. He is father of two little children.
People at our Consulate in Miami are astonished, since this is the first case they see with these characteristics, but absolutely nothing can be done, not even a transfer to our country.

After all, my son is guilty and will have to pay for his offense, but this guy had already paid !

Un abrazo,
Andrés
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Old 10-14-2002, 09:04 AM
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OMG!!!! That IS insanity-and 57mths at that!!!like the charge isn't stupid enough!
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