Do Drugs Deserve a Prison Sentence?

By Elma Hoffman
NEWS Reporter


A merica’s “War on Drugs” has been heavily criticized in the past, since it initiates a slew of ugly issues: racial bias, unfair sentencing, and political corruption, to name a few. Now, President Obama is taking a high-profile initiative to undo the harm of the campaign: He is allowing truly reformed non-violent drug offenders a chance at redemption. This move also eases the burdens that this large number of long-term inmates puts on the prison system. It must be noted that these 61 inmates are but a fraction of the more sizable 268 prisoners to whom President Obama has given clemency, and thousands more have applied for commutation.

However, there is still more work to be done. Those thousands of applications are moving slowly along the bureaucratic conveyor belt because the government lacks enough resources to thoroughly consider each case. With a pittance of resources allocated toward this effort, people who have genuinely repented have to wait as hope drains away and time wears on. To state the obvious, this is a notable flaw of the program.

 

OPINION by crimemuseum.org

 

Despite that, President Obama believes in the strength of his efforts and the democratic message they carry. “The power to grant pardons and commutations…embodies the basic belief in our democracy that people deserve a second chance after having made a mistake in their lives that led to a conviction under our laws,” he stated in a letter of pardon to the 61 who were released last week.

It is true that it seems hypocritical to uphold the laws of a country where some serve prison time for doing drugs without hurting others, especially when one regards the fact that drugs are perfectly legal in some states. While total drug legalization and the War on Drugs are two extremes — neither of which I endorse — undoing the harshness of the prison system is a step in the right direction. At this time, I believe it is most important for the American people to remember that prison is not a holding pen for society’s undesirables, but a correctional facility for encouraging people to find the right track and rebuild their lives as peaceful and moral citizens. President Obama’s grant of clemency has allowed hundreds of prisoners to do just that.

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