David Rudovsky- Civil Rights Attorney (cont’d)

“We’re seeing more of a shift in this country. Crime has become less of a political issue, and many on the left and the right agree that we incarcerate too many people. But even with the modest reductions in mass incarceration over the last few years, it will take us another 80 years at the current rate just to get back to where we were in 1975 when we had a prison population similar to the rest of the industrialized world.  I think we have got to do something much more dramatic. California just voted proposition 47 that is going to reduce prison sentences, and that state has made significant changes in its “three strikes” law.  Some of the federal changes are important also, especially with the changes in drug sentences. Some states have had some great success. New York and New Jersey, for example, have both significantly reduced their prison populations and at the same time, reduced crime.  In other words, we do not have to engage in mass incarceration to provide safe communities.” 

We have to rethink the war on drugs and even if we do not have complete legalization, major reforms are necessary.  We should not be spending any resources on marijuana enforcement and use of that drug should be decriminalized. I think we lose more than we gain with drug criminalization, but even if we continue with criminal enforcement, we can be a lot more rational about how we deal with drug offenders.  There should be more treatment and programs, and much less imprisonment. The current system is hugely costly and counter-productive. In this country we have reduced smoking by over 50%, not by the use of criminal laws or penal sanctions, but by treating the problem as a public health issue and by education.  Yet tobacco (and alcohol) is more dangerous than many of the controlled substances.” 

 David Rudovsky- Civil Rights Attorney


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