Rarely do the left and right agree. But they have backed into each other in deciding long sentences for most drug offenders are inhumane, ineffective, and expensive.
Progressives think they’re cruel and unusual punishment — way more than needed to fit the crime.
And increasingly, conservatives think it’s overkill for another reason: we can’t afford it. It punishes the convict and his family — but also the rest of us.
Democratic President Barack Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder, has instructed U.S. attorneys to avoid charging non-violent drug defendants for crimes that carry mandatory minimum sentences.
About half of federal prisoners are there because of drugs — increasing from 4,700 in 1980 to 98,000 now. The cost of running federal prisons has increased 1,700 percent — to about $7 billion a year.
“This focused reliance on incarceration is not just financially unsustainable,” Holder told the federal Sentencing Commission, an independent body that sets sentencing policies, “it comes with human and moral costs that are impossible to calculate.”
Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry, at a March 7 panel discussion on criminal justice at the Conservative Political Action Conference, said Texas has shifted to a “smart-on-crime” corrections system, saving money and human potential by moving drug addicts toward treatment rather than prison.
– Read the entire article at News-Journal.