Granting Clemency for Non-Violent Drug Offenders Is a Step in the Right Direction
In recent weeks news has broken that President Obama is considering granting clemency to hundreds of thousands of non-violent drug offenders incarcerated in the United States. An act of this magnitude is long overdue and is a step in the right direction when it comes to dealing with our nation’s policy toward drug offenders.
When discussing the criminal justice system and drug offenders, it is imperative to remember that 2/3 of incarcerated inmates meet the medical criteria for addiction. Despite having this deadly disease, only 11% of addicted inmates receive any form of treatment. So while clemency is certainly progress, we must also provide effective treatment for these inmates with the disease and the many co-occurring conditions. This is especially true when they are released from prison and the risk of relapse and rearrest is so high.
There are effective ways to treat and manage addiction both during and after a period of incarceration. Failing to provide these critically important services is a terrible waste of taxpayer dollars and human potential.
The time for change is now. Obama should not only consider clemency for many of these non-violent drug offenders, but he should also ensure that all offenders are offered appropriate treatment while in prison and, as importantly, continued treatment when they return to their communities.
For more information about addiction and the criminal justice system click here.