Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group and member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, published an interesting article on ending the War on Drugs this week which included a discussion of sentencing guidelines.
According to the article, the United States currently keeps more people in prison than any other country in the world:
“More than 2.4 million people languish in federal, state and county prisons, many of them non-violent drug users serving life sentences triggered by misguided three-strike laws that don’t distinguish between petty theft and armed robbery. Prisons everywhere are overcrowded, while law enforcement and judicial resources are wasted. It’s a travesty that has created a vicious and inescapable cycle of incarceration, ruining the lives of thousands of non-violent offenders in the process.”
Branson references the “War on Drugs,” which was initiated by President Richard Nixon over 40 years ago, as a “spectacular failure,” citing to the more than $1 trillion spent battling the war and the tens of thousands of lives lost in law enforcement, while the demand for drugs remains as strong as ever.
Within the article, Branson compassionately argues that the solution is sentencing reform:
“Current drug laws need a whole range of fixes, but there is one issue where relatively simple changes in the law could literally mean the difference between a life behind bars and a fresh start for thousands, while saving millions in taxpayer funds: I’m talking about sentencing reform.”
The complete article can be found here: “Let’s Fix It: End the War on Drugs.”
Casey Reiter is an associate attorney at Stuart R. Manoff & Associates, P.A. in West Palm Beach, Florida, practicing in the areas of Criminal Defense and Marital Law.