Mandating effective treatment for drug offenders
The main culprit in incarcerating so many addicts is the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984.
Legislators had good intentions when passing the law.
A debate rages between the penal system and the mental health system. But this debate is often held away from the plethora of research and evidence that we now have.
The question is how we handle addicted individuals who commit nonviolent crimes (such as carrying illegal substances). A disturbing statistic about modern American society is that we incarcerate a greater percentage of our population than any other country in the world. Many experts would say it is the war on drugs that has led to such a huge prison population.
They wanted to take discretion in sentencing away from judges because there were huge discrepancies among similar cases.
Unfortunately, it led to a similar law in 1986, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, which imposed mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes.
Often, the criminal justice system can apply legal pressure to encourage offenders to participate in drug abuse treatment; or treatment can be mandated through a drug court or as a condition of pretrial release, probation, or parole.
More specifically, this Note considers as models Arizona and California Acts that mandate substituting court-supervised drug treatment and education programs for incarceration.
Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction: What Science Says.