CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

Editorials

August 13, 2013

A drain on the taxpayers

CULLMAN — The nation’s long-standing policy to imprison drug offenders may be coming to an end.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the policy of sending so many drug offenders, particularly low-level criminals, has clogged the nation’s prison systems to the point that funding is practically impossible. California has found overcrowding a problem, even to the point that the federal government forced the release of many inmates.

Alabama, with its emphasis on punishment, has loaded its prisons to the breaking point. While the average person who lives within the law may believe incarceration is the answer to breaking certain rules of society, the length of punishment and the severity of the crime needs to be taken into account.

The United States has waged a long war against the illegal drug trade that has ruined so many lives in this country. But the drugs are not going away. Lack of cooperation from other countries and a gradual acceptance of recreational drug use in society has created a mess. Taxpayer dollars can’t stand the burden of more and more jail time for low-level drug offenders.

The correctional system itself needs to be revamped so that inmates grow their own food and generate other services that pay for their keep. The amount of money spent on inmates takes away from education and other needs in society.

Holder has not been the most popular attorney general in the nation’s history, but he’s right on target with wanting to change sentencing guidelines. America cannot take the continued strain of funding a huge prison population.

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