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Wednesday, December 12, 2012


For John, BLUFThe US has 2.3 million people in jail.  Many of them need to be there.  The rest need help.  In the mean time they are costing taxpayers money that might be spent elsewhere.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

That bastion of Conservative thinking, The New York Times, has an article in the Science Section by Reporter John Tierney, which questions the wisdom of long mandatory sentences for crimes that don't involve physical violence.  The author takes an obvious case, where the Reagan appointed Judge Roger Vinson believes the mandatory life sentence he imposed on Ms Stephanie George was disproportionately harsh.  Worse, it has probably adversely impacted her children (she is a single mother).  And, not as bad, but still bad, it has cost the taxpayers a lot of money to keep Ms George locked up and has deprived the economy of a possible worker and tax payer.  And, the perverse incentives involved in others testifying against her has added to the problem.

In a nutshell, we have hundreds of thousands of people behind bars who could and should be out living free lives.  I am not calling for the early release of murders and rapists.  I am saying that many in jail for drug related offenses should be in treatment programs.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff


Neal said...

Absolutely!! Physical crimes should result in incarceration...perhaps for the life of the offender. The rest of the crimes for which folks are imprisoned are of a different magnitude and should be dealt with more productively. For financial crimes, perhaps a more fitting punishment is for the perp to pay back his matter how long it takes...make him or her more or less and indentured servant of his or her victim until the debt is discharged.

For drug offenses....this is one that is particularly confounding. We the people created the framework by which folks are imprisoned for drugs. First and foremost....making a law against drug use/addiction has proven to be almost wholly ineffective. Sort of like the 55 mph speed limits posted on US 3 and I-93...where even the cops breeze along at 80.

Legalize drug use. Folks who want to use drugs are going to matter what the law demands. The cost for society is going to be greater under law. If I had a magic wand, I'd legalize drugs and at the same time increase treatment programs for those who want to avail themselves of a cure. Set up drug use centers maybe right next door to treatment facilities...handy that way. Sort of modern opium dens with addiction treatment just down the hall.

Addiction is a fact of life. Some folks are going to do it no matter that is the reality we must confront. BTW....a large number of addictions today are iatrogenic. Why do you think Vicodin and Oxy are so popular....folks need them medically and then can't get off of the med. When Valium hit the was a runaway street hit....largely because it was wildly overprescribed...."if it feels good do it...and if you don't feel good...take a Valium."

I suspect that were the US to legalize drugs and get our panties unknotted....the cartels would disappear in a would much if not all of the drug violence.

Lance said...

Anyway I was startled by the fact that thirty years ago 2% of the CA budget went to incarceration and 11.3% to higher education and now it's 11% and 8% respectively (or similar numbers, the article had the real ones).

Regards  —  Lance