Now, some 2,000 people serving life sentences in federal prisons will be able to ask for clemency. After lawyers review those applications the numbers will likely go down due to the stipulations that come with the new rule.
“They must be low-level, non-violent offenders without a significant criminal history and must be serving a federal sentence that would likely be shorter if they were convicted today. They must have served at least 10 years of their sentence and have demonstrated good conduct in prison, with no history of violence before or during their prison term.” (CNN)
It’s a small step in the progression towards a more balanced law pertaining to drugs, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.
The War on Drugs is commonly associated with the Nixon administration after he famously declared drug abuse to be, “public enemy number one,” while service members were coming back from Vietnam with drug addictions. Thus began the War on Drugs era with outrageous spending and racially charged sentencing.
Rand Paul agrees, saying “We went crazy on the War on Drugs. We have people in jail for life for nonviolent drug crimes. I think this is a crime in and of itself.”
Many people today wonder why Marijuana—or even Hemp for Pete’s sake—is illegal, citing the correlations between our views on marijuana, and the prohibition of alcohol. It’s commonly known that if a teenager wanted to get weed, it would be much easier for them to do so rather than being able to get alcohol. The black market makes the acquisition of drugs more accessible to almost anyone looking to buy.
And that buying comes with a heavy-handed price. Prior to rule changes, there was a mandatory sentencing system that had to be imposed. Stephanie George, after serving 17 years in jail, was recently set free after being sentenced to life in prison for a non-violent drug related crime. In December, President Barack Obama pardoned George and eight other people for the crimes.
But Stephanie is not the only one. Over 200,000 people are serving life in person for non-violent drug related crimes. That’s millions of tax payer dollars being spent on keeping someone locked up who could probably be rehabilitated and allowed back into society. Most often those people go back to their communities and try to end the cycle that befalls their peers.
The War on Drugs has failed, and America needs to adapt to a new standard of the world. No longer can we allow our past to dictate our future. It’s time to live in the now, deal with what is, and create a future that we’ll be proud to look back on.
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