Imprisonment is becoming unaffordable...

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Via the Sentencing Law and Policy blog: The high cost of imprisonment has created openings for sentencing reform. An article on explores recent moves in Texas and Kansas to find alternatives to building more prisons. It's easy in this issue a lot of the time to feel like things are hopeless, and certainly the pace of change is frustratingly slow. But it's a different debate now, on drugs and on crime in general, than was taking place 13 or so years ago when I first got involved in this. I can't remember the last time I heard a politician talk about how prisoners are being "coddled" and shouldn't have access to exercise rooms -- routine stuff back then -- and while menaces to society like US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales still want more mandatory minimums, it has become noticeably harder for them to get them passed -- Pat Leahy isn't the only reason Gonzales' horrible idea isn't likely to go anywhere. Attitudes are changing, policy will follow suit, but we have to keep working at it to make it happen...
United States
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The 'bottom is dropping out'

As they say in Jamaica about their water wells...

Economically, the War on (Some) Drugs has always been a 'rich man's hobby', like yachting. It's not and never has been something economically vital to the nation's welfare...unless you count all the dirty money propping up banks dealing in it. The DrugWar is something that a country has to have a lot of 'expendable income', budget-wise, to afford doing. And the US doesn't, anymore. The financial chickens are coming home to roost after the 2-plus decades of binge-spending on the DrugWar, and much more important and vital matters need the money the DrugWar wastes. The smarter of the politicians are already changing their strident "Tough on drugs/crime!" rhetoric and softening it tentatively with "Smart on drugs/crime."

Those politicians know some hard choices must be made soon, because we cannot afford both a War on Terror and a War on Drugs, too. And it's being acted upon already. In 2006 the pols did something that they had never done before; they cut funding for the ONDCP's advertising (translation: propaganda) budget. That sent shivers down the back of those who thought they worked for a sacred cow that would never feel the butcher's budget knife. The precedent has been set; the once-untouchable ONDCP has been bled. A few more bits of bad publicity and more budgetary knives will come out, pointed in ONDCP's direction. I can't wait...

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