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How do you plan to pay for that? Already, well over five percent of the people in this country (U.S) are in custody (including probation, parole, bail, etc.) Murderers and rapists are being let out of our penatentiaries right now to make room for a few more `deadheads’ — there are about 2,500 Grateful Dead fans in our federal prisons. Imprisoning one person for one year costs about $20,000. The United States leads the world in imprisonment — at any one time, 425 people out of every 100,000 are behind bars. In the Federal Prison System, one fifth of the prisoners are drug offenders who have done nothing violent. State laws are usually less strict, but state mandatory minumum sentences for drugs are getting more popular.
Our prisons and our courtrooms are so crowded that the American Bar Association’s annual report on the state of the Justice System is basically one long plea for an end to drug laws that imprison users. Even the Clinton Administration recognizes that locking people up is not the solution. This is especially true for the people who actually have drug abuse problems — they need treatment, not mistreatment. The Drug War put mandatory minimum jail sentences for drug crimes on the lawbooks. If we do not take those laws (at least) back off, we will be in sorry shape come the end of the century. A retroactive policy of marijuana legalization or decriminalization would go a long way in helping to solve this crisis.
Also consider this — Once a person gets put in jail, he becomes angry with the world. He will probably be victimized while he is there, and most likely will learn criminal behaviors from hard-core violent offenders. There is also a very good chance that he will have caught AIDS or tuberculosis by the time he gets let back out. By locking up drug users, you are digging yourself a very big trench to fall in — is it worth it?
Besides, lots of these people don’t deserve to be in jail. Why should they serve time just because they like to get `high’ on marijuana? Especially when someone can drink alcohol without being arrested… what kind of law is that? You have to think about what kind of a world you are making for yourself before you act. How are the police of the future going to treat the people? How far are you willing to let the government go to get the drug users? How many of your own rights will you sacrifice by trying to jail `the druggies’?