When President Lyndon Johnson announced the War on Poverty, he left out one crucial word – drugs. After the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, there was still an unfinished agenda. What was it? “A provision over illegal drugs which provided not only for federal criminal-law enforcement but also for expanded rehabilitation and treatment programs.”
Johnson didn’t want to deal with it. He said “Drugs? I don’t want to have anything to do with them. Just lock them up and throw away the key.” Forget about rehabilitation. Forget about treating those who are drug dependent. Just lock them up.
In his upcoming State of the Union address, President Barack Obama will confront the government’s struggle to legislate drugs and the War on Poverty.
In addition to this, Obama should seek to reduce sentencing for drug-law offenders who are non-violent. With the increase of prisoners in the prison system after the crack cocaine era, jails/prisons are overcrowded, treatment programs aren’t as effective, and the cost of housing these prisoners are being passed on to taxpayers. In fact, ‘the lock them up and throw away the key mentality has seen an increase of 800 percent in prisoners from 1980 to 2012. The Justice department spends $6.4 billion dollars a years on prisons.
There’s a growing consensus that mandatory minimums aren’t effective in keeping a society safe. A bill called the Smarter Sentencing Act (SSA) would ‘reduce the mandatory-minimum penalties for many drug offenses and give federal judges more leeway to sentence nonviolent offenders with limited criminal histories below the high mandatory-minimum sentences.’ This bill wouldn’t prevent drug trafficking nor will it even possibly deter it. It will simply reduce the sentencing options.
Attorney General Eric Holder has endorsed the bill.
President Obama has the opportunity to introduce this bill to millions who people who will be watching his State of the Union address. He is hoping that this bill will gain momentum throughout Congress and Americans
Source: The Atlantic
Dr. Sinclair Grey III is an inspirational speaker, motivator, author, organizer and liberator of persons from all intellectual, social and cultural walks of life. He is a committed advocate for communal change. Email: [email protected]. Follow on Twitter @drsinclairgrey