As more and more states consider legalizing marijuana for recreational use as has been done in Colorado, or decriminalizing possession and use of marijuana and other substances, many are trying to guess the potential outcome of these legislative changes.
Will more illicit substances become available? Will more teenagers – who are never legally allowed to possess or use any mind-altering substance – be able to get their hands on these drugs more easily? Will more DUI charges pile up and deaths caused by the same? In general, many want to know whether or not the rates of substance abuse among the public will increase as the law becomes more tolerant of personal choice in regard to drug and alcohol abuse.
It is the US Attorney General Eric Holder’s position that a reduction in prison sentence for drug-related charges is the way to go, according to The New York Times. Though he does not advocate for completely legitimizing drug dealing or wiping the slate clean in terms of punishment for drug dealers, he does believe that the average sentence of 62 months should be cut back to 51 months, shortening the time spent in jail for most convicted of the crime by about one year.
The Financial Bottom Line
Should those in a position to make this change follow the suggestions of the US Attorney General, there would be a number of clear effects, including the reduction in the federal prison population by about 6,500 people over the course of the next five years. This would save the federal government a great deal of money by lowering the cost of running these prisons, but many question if it’s a cost-effective measure for the community at large if law enforcement and health care costs increase due to a rise in drug use and abuse.
However, US Attorney General Holder believes that even if this is the case, incarceration is not the answer. He said: “This overreliance on incarceration is not just financially unsustainable. It comes with human and moral costs that are impossible to calculate.”
The United States Sentencing Commission responsible for writing the guidelines for judges’ sentencing will vote on how to proceed on the issue this month. Should they modify those guidelines according to Holder’s suggestions, the changes would take effect by late fall of this year unless Congress votes to overturn the modifications.
Helping Your Loved One Beat Addiction
Whether or not drug dealers spend four or five years in prison for their crimes, it will likely do little to change your addicted loved one’s access to their drug of choice. You can help them to overcome the addiction that is threatening their physical and emotional health by connecting them with a rehab program that provides the evidence-based treatment needed. Contact us at Alta Mira today for more information.