A Major Win For The Opponents Of The ‘War On Drugs’
The War On Drugs.
It’s no secret that most people are tired of war on drugs. In fact, one police department is refusing to arrest drug offenders – offering help instead of incarceration. So many lives have been ruined by this ‘war’. Teenagers have been shot and killed by police over the mere suspicion of having marijuana. Tens-of-thousands more are sitting in a cell, some for decades, for using the drug that is now legal in many jurisdictions. (To give you an idea on how the ‘war on drugs’ has progressed, in 1991, NY arrested only 600 people for non-violent drug offenses. In 2010, that number was almost 60,000).
So today, I welcomed the news that the federal government is releasing over 6,000 people who were caught up in the ‘war on drugs’. Their pending release, which is scheduled for the end of the month, is due to changes in sentencing guidelines. The new drug sentencing guidelines from U.S. Sentencing Commission, which are intended to reduce penalties on certain nonviolent drug offenders, also applies to any future offenders.
The U.S. Sentencing Commission decided in July 2014 that close to 50,000 federal inmates locked up on drug charges would be eligible for reduced sentences. The new sentencing guidelines took effect on Nov. 1, 2014. The commission’s action is separate from an effort by President Obama to grant clemency to certain nonviolent drug offenders.
Why Should You Care?
Like most people, I feel that taxes are to high. Sure, there are lots of things that are paid for by taxes – schools, roads, medical care, etc. However, it’s the $51 Billion spent each year on the ‘war on drugs’ that I take issue with – The average family will pay $700 per year in taxes to fight this unwinnable war. And none of those figures take in account the ‘trickle down effect’ this war has caused. (Adjusted for inflation, it’s estimated that close to $1 Trillion has been spent thus far on the ‘war on drugs’)
For example, it is estimated that 1/3 (350,000 people) of all the AIDS cases in the United States is the direct result of sharing a dirty needle (The US reaffirmed its ban on a free needles program). According to the CDC, the average lifetime costs to treat HIV/AIDS is around $20,000 per year – that’s another $7 Billion per year.
Another example are those people who no longer qualify for financial aid due to a simple possession charge of marijuana. Over 200,000 people have been barred from receiving financial aid. That’s 200,000 people who cannot afford to go to college, which results in lower paying jobs – jobs that typically do not have healthcare benefits.
And none of the examples above take into account the ‘trickle down effect’ incarceration has on society. For each person locked up, that person stands to lose $100,000 over the course of their lifetimes in taxable wages and salary due to the handicap a prison record creates for formerly incarcerated individuals – which in the end, removes $100,000 per person from the economy.
So who picks up the tab? Taxpayers. Remember that the next time you look at your paycheck and wonder where all the money goes.