Alternatives to Incarceration

RSS Feed for this category

Republican Lawmakers Shifting Tough-On-Crime Stance As State Budget Problems Multiply

In no state is the philosophical U-turn more abrupt than in Oklahoma, where last year the Legislature was barreling in the opposite direction. New Republican Speaker of the House Kris Steele is expected to unveil a package of proposals that would divert thousands of nonviolent lawbreakers from the prison system and ramp up paroles. Similar crash prison reductions are going on from coast to coast. Michigan has shuttered 20 correctional facilities and slashed spending by nearly 7 percent. South Carolina expects to reduce its inmate numbers by 8 percent by putting drug dealers, burglars and hot check writers into community programs instead of behind bars.
Publication/Source: 
Los Angeles Times (CA)
URL: 
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/wire/sns-ap-us-broken-budgets-prison-problems,0,2779184.story

Dealers' Choice: Job Or Jail: New Program for Entry-Level Drug Sellers Announced in North Charleston, South Carolina

Location: 
North Charleston, SC
United States
A new program hopes to clean up a drug-plagued neighborhood by steering entry-level dealers into a jobs program.
Publication/Source: 
The Post and Courier (SC)
URL: 
http://www.postandcourier.com/news/2011/jan/21/dealers-choice-job-or-jail/

UN Drug Czar: "Drug Use Is a Health Problem, Not a Crime"

Location: 
Afghanistan
On his first visit to Afghanistan since assuming duties as UNODC Executive Director in September, Mr. Yury Fedotov visited Jangalak Treatment Center, in Kabul, Afghanistan, last week. The center offers treatment and follow up care for recovering drug users. "Drug use is a health problem, not a crime", said Mr. Fedotov. "Drug users are affected by a disease - addiction - and instead of punishment, what they need is treatment, care and social integration. They should not be stigmatized, repressed or further marginalized. Like all people, they deserve to be treated humanely. I believe in placing a strong emphasis on safeguarding health, human rights and justice", he added.
Publication/Source: 
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (Austria)
URL: 
http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/frontpage/2010/November/putting-people-first-unodc-executive-director-visits-drug-treatment-centre-and-womens-prison-in-afghanistan.html?ref=fs1

Drug Prohibition Related Cases Clogging Philippine Courts

Location: 
Philippines
Drug prohibition related cases are clogging the dockets of the country’s courts and, as a result, jails are filled with drug suspects. Former Supreme Court Associate Justice Adolf Azcuna and present head of the Philippine Judicial Academy, said, "If you want to restore the drug offenders, you should be improving the places where you help drug addicts recover from their addiction."
Publication/Source: 
Philippine Daily Inquirer (Philippines)
URL: 
http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/nation/view/20101117-303661/Drug-related-cases-clogging-nations-courts

Growth of Ex-Offender Population in United States Is a Dramatic Drag on Economy (Press Release)

For Immediate Release:November 15, 2010
Contact: Alan Barber, (571) 306-2526

Washington, D.C.- Three decades of harsh criminal justice policies have created a large population of ex-offenders that struggle in the labor market long after they have paid their debts to society, according to a new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). Because prison records and felony convictions greatly lower ex-offenders' chances of finding work, the United States loses between $57 billion and $65 billion a year in lost output.

“It isn't just that we have the highest incarceration rate in the world, we have created a situation over the last 30 years where about one in eight men is an ex-offender,” said John Schmitt, a Senior Economist at CEPR and a co-author of the report.

The new report, “Ex-offenders and the Labor Market,” found that in 2008 there were between 5.4 million and 6.1 million ex-prisoners and between 12.3 million and 13.9 million ex-felons in the United States. Over 90 percent were men.

In 2008, about one in 33 working-age adults was an ex-prisoner, and about one in 15 working-age adults was an ex-felon. Among working-age men in that same year, about one in 17 was an ex-prisoner and one in eight was an ex-felon.

Because ex-offenders face substantial barriers to employment, the authors estimate that the large ex-offender population in 2008 lowered employment that year by the equivalent of 1.5 million to 1.7 million workers.

"The rise in the ex-offender population overwhelmingly reflects changes in the U.S. criminal Justice system, not changes in underlying criminal activity," says Schmitt. "We incarcerate an astonishing share of non-violent offenders, particularly for drug-related offenses. We have far better ways to handle these kinds of offenses, but so far common sense has not prevailed."

The report warns that in the absence of reforms to the criminal justice system, the share of ex-offenders in the working-age population will rise substantially in coming years, increasing the magnitude of employment and output losses estimated for 2008.

###

Drug-Addicted Criminals Will Be Spared Jail

Location: 
United Kingdom
Criminals who are addicted to drugs will be spared jail and sent for treatment instead under plans being drawn up by Kenneth Clarke. He has publicly questioned whether prison is the best place to deal with offenders who are addicted to drugs.
Publication/Source: 
Daily Telegraph (UK)
URL: 
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/8115834/Drug-addicted-criminals-will-be-spared-jail.html

Indonesian Police Say Jail Cells No Help in Drug War

Location: 
Indonesia
The Jakarta Police are considering handing drug traffickers hefty fines rather than locking them up, arguing that imprisonment did not appear to be an effective deterrent and was getting too costly for the state. According to Jakarta Police Chief Inspector General Sutarman, it would be much wiser if drug users were not put in jail but in a rehabilitation center, which is currently not an option. "If jails are already full and people who violate the law are also set to become a burden for the state, why don’t we change this? I think we need a strategic decision, to be taken by the government and the legislature," he said.
Publication/Source: 
Jakarta Globe (Indonesia)
URL: 
http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/home/indonesian-police-say-jail-cells-no-help-in-drug-war/405000

Washington Prosecutor Candidate Makes Drug Reform a Key Issue [FEATURE]

Snohomish County, Washington, stretches from the Seattle suburbs in the south to the city of Everett in the north. It encompasses the Pacific Coast and the Cascade Range, and come November, its 700,000 citizens will be electing a new prosecutor. One of the candidates is staking out a very progressive position on drug policy.

Jim Kenny with firefighters (jimkenny.org)
The campaign pits incumbent prosecutor Mark Roe against challenger Jim Kenny. Both are long-time prosecutors, Roe in Snohomish County and Kenny in Seattle, and both are Democrats. But only one supported I-1068, this year's failed marijuana legalization initiative, and only one is trying to make drug policy reform a winning issue. That would be Jim Kenny.

Under Washington election law, the top two vote-getters in the primary go to the general election ballot, regardless of party affiliation. Roe won the primary with 67% of the vote, while Kenny came in second with 31%.

"You could say I'm the underdog," Kenny told the Chronicle this week. "But we do have a plan to turn those numbers around and win in the general election. We think we can double the turnout over the primary election," he said.

With both candidates running as Democrats and experienced prosecutors, the challenger is looking for issues to differentiate himself from the incumbent, and for Kenny, drug policy is one of those issues. Reformist stances are drug policy positions are prominently displayed on his campaign web site's issues page. Roe does not even have an issues page.

Kenny supported I-1068 because "it was the right thing to do," he said. "I supported 1068 for a variety of reasons," said the veteran prosecutor. "I think it was the right thing to do to end 40 years of the war on drugs and marijuana prohibition. It could have had financial benefits for the state through a redirection of law enforcement resources or potentially even a reduction in the need for those resources."

Kenny pointed out that there were 12,000 marijuana prosecutions in Washington in 2008. "Those prosecutions cost the state more than $18 million," he said. "If you legalize marijuana, you would reduce the need for all those arrests, prosecutions, and incarcerations. You can save those resources, or redirect them to fight real crime."

"You could also tax marijuana, and those tax dollars would be a real financial benefit to the state," he said.

"Another reason 1068 made a lot of sense," Kenny continued, "is that it started allowing our community in the state of Washington to look at drugs within a public health model instead of a criminal justice model. We spent 40 years prosecuting people for drugs, but now the Obama administration has come out with a new drug control strategy that walks away from war on drugs rhetoric and talks about dealing with drugs as a public health issue. It didn't involve any changing of programs or funding, but I think it's significant for the federal government to disavow the term 'war on drugs.' That provides the opportunity for people at the local level, for prosecutors, to run with it. I'm afraid the federal government may not take more significant steps in that direction, but it is something local governments can run with."

Kenny also sought to draw a sharp line between himself and Roe on medical marijuana. "My opponent is prosecuting some sick and injured people as felons for marijuana distribution, and I think that's the wrong thing to do," Kenny said. "People with medical marijuana authorizations should be treated as patients, not criminals."

Talking drug policy reform could be a winning issue, or at least not a losing one in Western Washington, said Seattle attorney Rachel Kurtz. "I feel like we're pretty advanced here," she said. "[Drug reformer and state representative] Roger Goodman runs for office, and in his last election he was attacked for not doing enough on drug reform. In this financial climate, drug policy reform is seen as a way to save money and taxes. I don't think Kenny is going to lose because of his drug policy stances. The electorate is becoming smarter and you can use those old tactics anymore," she said.

Kenny isn't just talking about pot. He is also advocating innovative criminal justice measures to reduce incarceration levels and promising to bring transparency to police-involved shootings. It's all part of what he calls "smart on crime" policies, as opposed to "tough on crime."

"We need to continue to incarcerate serious and violent offenders, but for low- and mid-level offenders we can do more," Kenny said. "In other cities across the country, they are using some innovative ideas to help people help themselves by addressing root causes, such as mental health and drug and alcohol problems," he said, pointing to problem-solving courts, such as drug court, mental health court, and veterans' court.

Snohomish County, with a large naval base and veteran population, should have a veterans' court, Kenny argued. "It's a specialized court with a redirection of resources where you might take in all the vets' cases," he said. "It's really about asking these defendants what's going on with them, why are they doing this, looking at their criminal histories and asking how we can change this. Ideally, it involves additional resources, particularly getting people into alcohol and drug treatment. It's about slowing down the process and asking why, and that makes a real difference."

The county does have a drug court, Kenny noted, but needs more problem-solving courts. "Those programs have been expanded in places in the country and the state, and we need to bring them to Snohomish County."

He also favors alternative sentencing arrangements. "Work crews, electronic monitoring, community service -- all of those keep people out of jail and allow us to not have to build a second jail any time in the near future. If we can use these tools to reduce recidivism, especially without putting people in jail, that would be a good thing," he said. "My conservative opponents don't like to focus on the fact that jail can be a school for criminals."

Kenny is also taking a strong stand on accountability for police-involved killings. In the past 18 months, Snohomish police have shot six people to death and Tasered one to death. Those killings need a light shone on them, he said.

"That's a real concern. I want to establish mandatory inquests," he said. "Inquests are not a criminal case, but a fact-finding investigation to find out what happened and whether it was justified. We need some transparency for these incidents where police use lethal force in the name of the community. There is currently no inquest, so unless the decedent files a lawsuit, we may never hear what happened in that particular case. And even then, civil cases are settled out of court all the time. Bad things could be happening and we never learn the details of why."

Mandatory inquests would be "good for the community and good for the police," Kenny said. "It gives police the opportunity to take the stand and explain why they used lethal force. They should explain to the community why. It costs some money, but it will provide transparency, and the community can rely on the fact that the police are doing the right thing."

When, running on a drug reform platform, New York prosecutor David Soares defeated the incumbent in the Albany County district attorney race in 2004, it was a shock. It is a measure of how far we have come that if Kenny manages to pull off a long-shot victory in November, it will be no shock at all, just a pleasant surprise.

(This article was published by StoptheDrugWar.org's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

Everett, WA
United States

Capitol Hill Hearing -- Quitting Hard Habits: Efforts to Expand and Improve Alternatives to Incarceration for Drug-Involved Offenders

The Domestic Policy Subcommittee of the House of Representative's Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is holding this hearing to focus on front-end alternatives to incarceration for drug-involved offenders and abusers of illegal drugs. It will examine the extent to which and why (or why not) these efforts have been effective in reducing the levels and associated harms of incarceration, reducing recidivism, effectively treating drug abuse, and improving other social outcomes and which approaches (or mix approaches) are best suited to accomplishing these goals. This hearing is held as part of the Domestic Policy Subcommittee’s mandate as the authorizing committee for the Office of National Drug Control Policy in the House of Representatives.
Date: 
Thu, 07/22/2010 - 2:00pm - 5:00pm
Location: 
Independence Avenue and South Capitol Street
Washington, DC 20003
United States

Press Release: Hearing to Assess Alternatives to Incarceration For Drug-Involved Offenders

For Immediate Release Contact: Nathan White, (202) 225-5871 Oversight Hearing to Assess Alternatives to Incarceration For Drug-Involved Offenders Washington D.C. – Chairman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today announced a Domestic Policy Subcommittee hearing entitled “Quitting Hard Habits: Efforts to Expand and Improve Alternatives to Incarceration for Drug-Involved Offenders.” The hearing will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 22, 2010 in room 2154 Rayburn House Office Building. The purpose of the hearing is to focus on front-end alternatives to incarceration for drug-involved offenders and abusers of illegal drugs. It will examine the extent to which and why (or why not) these efforts have been effective in reducing the levels and associated harms of incarceration, reducing recidivism, effectively treating drug abuse, and improving other social outcomes and which approaches (or mix approaches) are best suited to accomplishing these goals. This hearing is held as part of the Domestic Policy Subcommittee’s mandate as the authorizing committee for the Office of National Drug Control Policy in the House of Representatives. http://oversight.house.gov/index.php?option=com_jcalpro&Itemid=1&extmode... ###
Location: 
Washington, DC
United States

Drug War Issues

Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, 2015 Drug War Killings, 2016 Drug War Killings, 2017 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Safe Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Kratom, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School