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The United States incarcerates more people and at a higher rate than any other peacetime nation in the world. According to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics the number of US residents behind bars has now reached more than 2.3 million.
We are losing an entire generation of young men and women to our prisons. Our nation’s ineffective and wasteful “war on drugs” plays a major role in this.
We must place a greater emphasis on rehabilitation and prevention.
We must de-criminalize minor drug offenses and increase the availability and visibility of substance abuse treatment and prevention in our communities as well as in jails and prisons.
We must increase the use of special drug courts in which addicted offenders are given the opportunity to complete court supervised substance abuse treatment instead of being sentenced to prison.
We must eliminate mandatory minimum sentencing laws.
We must increase the use of alternative penalties for nonviolent drug offenders. Drug defendants convicted of nonviolent offenses should not be given mandatory prison sentences.
We should emphasize the criminalization of the importers, manufacturers, and major distributors, rather than just the street vendors. Prison in this country should be a legitimate criminal sanction -- but it should be an extension of a fair, just and wise society.