Last week an incredible bit of a news broke in regards to the criminal justice system, especially when it concerns drug charges and those who commit non-violent drug offenses. A group of senators put together a program that would change many of the unfortunate fundamental pieces to our drug crime system. And even more shocking, it was a bipartisan group of senators — but we’ll leave the political jokes to the late night TV hosts.
One of the crucial changes in this program is the ability granted to judges to circumvent mandatory minimum sentencing requirements. These mandatory minimum rules don’t consider any intricacies in a drug case. Instead, they just force judges to give drug offenders (many of whom committed a non-violent crime) tremendous jail sentences.
Another change proposed by these senators is that some people in jail currently could have their sentences reduced by 25 percent if they complete a rehabilitation program. At the same time, the new plan proposes creating other new systems and programs to help people who have been in jail to re-enter society when their jail term is complete.
Many of these ideas have been discussed for some time now, and the calls from the public — and even lawmakers — to change our criminal justice system has grown louder and louder over the years. It appears that, finally, some change may be coming to the criminal justice system. For too long, the punishment related to drug offenses hasn’t yielded any positive results; not for society, and certainly not for the individual convicted of a non-violent drug crime. This change is needed, and hopefully it will be passed soon.
Source: Chicago Tribune, “Senators reach deal to reduce prison time for some nonviolent drug offenders,” Oct. 1, 2015