Monday, November 16, 2015

Prisoners for Drug Trafficking Released Sooner Than Expected

The amount of time one serves in prison as a result of their punishment determined by a court has and always will be a concern for America's legal policies.  An example of this concern can be directed towards the fact that tens of thousands of people who have been serving prison terms for "drug trafficking" will be released before their actual sentences end.  In fact these sentences are being cut by "an average of 2 years."  This change is a result for the severe over population in prisons along with the actual expense for their upkeep.

Some people believe that this is early releasing of said prisoners is more beneficial than damaging to the community.  Julie Stewart, president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, stated 'people have been over-punished for decades.'  The Justice Department said that "there is no evidence" that proves inmates in prison for longer periods of times affect the chances of their returning to prison.

The class has recently reviewed the judicial system and the process of cases making their way up to the Supreme Court.  Taking into account the complexity of the American legal system, it is hard to determine the punishment for breaking said law.  Not to mention the difficulty in determining what is constitutional or unconstitutional.

As a response to the prison sentences being shortened, do you think this will have a major impact on US policies regarding drug trafficking.  Will this have any significant impact on American society.  Is the punishment for drug trafficking too extreme?

Sources:
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/02/us/with-early-release-thousands-of-inmates-are-adjusting-to-freedom.html
https://listencurrent.com/current_events/544-prisoner-early-release

3 comments:

Jessica Yeh said...

I think that, given how overcrowded US prisons are, it makes sense to release prisoners earlier for drug trafficking as opposed to prisoners convicted for more severe and harmful crimes. The US is the country with overwhelmingly the most prisoners, with a quarter of the world's prisoners, but only 5% of the world's total population. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2015/07/07/yes-u-s-locks-people-up-at-a-higher-rate-than-any-other-country/) Clearly, this raises questions about if the US is excessively strict and incarcerating people that don't need to be.

Many people demand criminal justice reform as they argue that locking up people convicted of less harmful crimes, such as selling drugs or for drug abuse, simply takes money from taxpayers. In my opinion, a drug dealer or drug abuser should not be given close to the same sentence as people convicted of violent and harmful crimes. Instead of simply incarcerating them, it could be much more worthwhile to help people break out of the cycle for drug trafficking or addiction so they are not put in jail again.

Louis Villa said...

I doubt this will have any noticeable effect on society. The "tens of thousands of people" make up a very small part of the population of the United States, so their influx will be hard to notice. It will be interesting to see if the people released from prison early will move to certain areas of the country where crime is more or less common and if these people are more likely to relapse than if they had an extra year or two in prison.

Meghan Hilbert said...

I agree with Louis' point of view that this will not make a drastic effect on society. A majority of cells are filled with marijuana sellers, and the outlook on marijuana has become less and less negative in American culture in a rapid manner. Those people getting arrested for a small amount of drugs should not be put in jail for a long time, it is easy to face other repercussions for small drug trading. However, I do believe it is acceptable to severely punish drug dealers selling drugs like coke, heroine, etc. that could easily destroy or kill someone.