“Prison Reform” Will Be Meaningless Without An End To The War On Drugs, by Duane Norman

Just less than half the federal prisoners in this country are there for drug crimes. Duane Norman is right; there isn’t a prayer of prison reform in this country until government stops dictating what people can and cannot put into their own bodies. From Duane Norman at fmshooter.com:

In the overwhelming aftermath of both praise and partisan attacks on President Trump and his State of the Union address, Trump’s mention of prison reform in the speech seemed like more of an afterthought.  The mention itself was rather short, with little more than a few sentences devoted to the topic:

“As America regains its strength, this opportunity must be extended to all citizens.  That is why this year we will embark on reforming our prisons to help former inmates who have served their time get a second chance,” Trump told Congress members and guests.

While most State of the Union addresses are filled with lofty rhetoric that all too often fails to deliver, Trump’s proposal, in its brevity, appears to focus on helping ex-cons obtain work opportunities once they leave prison.

Unfortunately, this will do nothing to change the fact that America incarcerates far more prisoners, both on a total number and per capita basis, than any other nation in the world:

By every measure the U.S. leads the world in prisoners, with 2.2 million people in jail and more than 4.8 million on parole. No nation tops that – not China with 1.7 million, not Russia with 670,000.

We not only have the highest number of prisoners, we have the highest percentage of people in prison or jail. In the U.S., 702 of every 100,000 people were in prison or jail in 2013. Cuba has 510 per 100,000 people in prison, Russia has 467, and Iran has 290.

Adults in Prison or Jail In The US

The exponential increase in prisoners isn’t due solely to population growth in the US – it is due to the war on drugs.  As the above chart details, as the war on drugs expanded in the 80s, so did the US prison population.  As Drug War Facts articulates, the number and percentage of prisoners in US prisons is staggering:

Federal Prisons:
“Forty-seven percent (81,900) of sentenced federal prisoners on September 30, 2016 (the most recent date for which federal offense data are available) were serving time for a drug offense (table 14; table 15).

State Prisons:
“Among sentenced prisoners under the jurisdiction of state correctional authorities on December 31, 2015, 15% (197,200 prisoners) had been convicted of a drug offense as their most serious crime.”

The US Dept. of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that at yearend 2015, 1,298,159 people were serving sentences in state prisons in the US, of whom 197,200 (15.2% of the total) had as their most serious offence a drug charge: 44,700 for drug possession (3.4% of the total), and 152,500 for “other” drug offenses, including manufacturing and sale (11.7% of the total).

To continue reading: “Prison Reform” Will Be Meaningless Without An End To The War On Drugs

 

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