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Prison Overcrowding Essay

819 words - 4 pages

Prison Overcrowding

Prison overcrowding is a problem largely attributed to the increase of drug convictions. Decades of tough-on-crime laws coupled with minimal financing for treatment programs have left prisons overcrowded and under funded. With the advent of crack cocaine and the response of a scared nation President Ronald Reagan declared a war on drugs in 1982 (Clear, Cole, & Reisig, 2009). In 1987 congress implemented mandatory minimum sentencing effectively increasing the time served for drug offenses. The war on drugs has succeeded in increasing the amount of drug offenders incarcerated. In 1985 the average state drug offense sentence was 13 months, in 2002 that number ...view middle of the document...

The idea being that legalizing drug use would possibly do away with the illegal activity that goes with it. Many of the problems that arise from drug use come from the addict’s efforts to support their habit (Abadinsky, 2008). With the increase in demand and the decrease of availability the cost of many drugs like heroin and cocaine can become overbearing. If made legal many of the problems associated with drug abuse would be minimized. The cost of the drugs along with the increased availability of them would allow many addicts to lead lives closer to normal. Removing drug laws and the many sentences and inmates they create would mean a large reduction in prison populations. Decriminalization could also prove to eliminate large drug manufacturers and importers. With the drugs becoming easily available and readily affordable large drug traffickers would not longer serve a purpose.

In resent years drugs courts have become more popular and can prove to be another method used to help lower the prison population. Drug courts are a highly specialized team process that functions within the existing Superior Court structure to address nonviolent drug related cases. Drugs courts operate within the existing court structure. They are a team of lawyers, court staff, treatment professionals and probation officers assembled for the purpose of helping the participant achieve recovery. Drugs courts act as a multifaceted arm of the court system that provide supervision, support, authority and encouragement. These courts...

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