Washington, DC — In July, Barack Obama announced that he would issue presidential clemency to approximately 80 non-violent drug offenders. This news was great, but 80 prisoners doesn’t even come close to being a drop in the bucket that is the prison industrial complex.
However, all of that is about to change. On Tuesday, the Justice Department announced that they will release about 6,000 inmates between October 30 and November 2. This will be the largest ever one-time release of federal prisoners in the history of the United States.
The early release comes on the heels of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, an independent agency that sets sentencing policies for federal crimes, lowering the penalties for drug offenders.
Apparently, bureaucrats in Washington are feeling the heat from those of us who have become tired of watching people be kidnapped and thrown in a cage for possessing a plant.
The panel estimated that its change in sentencing guidelines eventually could result in 46,000 of the nation’s approximately 100,000 drug offenders in federal prison qualifying for early release. The 6,000 figure, which has not been reported previously, is the first tranche in that process.
“The number of people who will be affected is quite exceptional,” said Mary Price, general counsel for Families Against Mandatory Minimums, an advocacy group that supports sentencing reform.
The Sentencing Commission estimated that an additional 8,550 inmates will be eligible for release between this Nov. 1 and Nov. 1, 2016.
The releases are part of a shift in the nation’s approach to criminal justice and drug sentencing. Along with the commission’s action, the Justice Department has instructed its prosecutors not to charge low-level, nonviolent drug offenders who have no connection to gangs or large-scale drug organizations with offenses that carry severe mandatory sentences.
This monumental move shows how unsustainable the state’s immoral war on drugs has become.
The release of these drug war victims can only be to the chagrin of the jackboot drug warriors who profit from depriving people of their freedom for possessing a plant. However, even their fear mongering and violent tactics aren’t enough to stop an idea whose time has come.
Federal prison costs represent about one-third of the Justice Department’s $27 billion budget. The U.S. population has grown by about a third since 1980, but the federal prison population has increased by about 800 percent and federal prisons are operating at nearly 40 percent over capacity, Justice officials said.
If the atrocious rate of recidivism, or the deadly violent gang culture created by the war on drugs, are not indicative of a serious failure of justice, then perhaps the insane increase in the US prison population is.
Over the past few decades, the US has seen a decrease in crime with a near exponential spike in the prison population; and this is all thanks to the drug war.
However, evidence of the drug war’s demise is everywhere. This latest news from the Justice Department only adds to the notion.
Also, States are defying the federal government and refusing to lock people in cages for marijuana. Colorado and Washington served as a catalyst in a seemingly exponential awakening to the government’s immoral war.
Following suit were Oregon, D.C., and Alaska. Medical marijuana initiatives are becoming a constant part of legislative debates nationwide. We’ve even seen bills that would not only completely legalize marijuana but deregulate it entirely, like corn.
As more and more states refuse to kidnap and cage marijuana users, the drug war will continue to implode. We must be resilient in this fight.
If doing drugs bothers you, don’t do drugs. When you transition from holding an opinion — to using government violence to enforce your personal preference, you become the bad guy. Don’t be the bad guy.