April 22, 2015
The War on Drugs “The ‘war on drugs’ that was declared in the early 1980s has been a primary contributor to the enormous growth of the prison system in the U.S. [Spell out United States here....may abbreviate after that] since that time and has affected all aspects of the criminal justice system” ("Drug Policy And The Criminal Justice System", 2001). [Remove quotations from the source information at the end...quotes should be around quoted material in the sentence only] The war on drugs cannot and will not be successful without advances in the criminal justice system as a whole. As long as drugs exist, there will be people willing to do anything and everything to make, ingest, and sell them. Overseas drug cartels largely contribute to the problem. Drugs affect the justice system on numerous levels including the courts and correctional facilities. The elimination of drugs is not evident anytime soon; therefore, the criminal justice system needs to focus on prevention and treatment rather than incarceration. Another focus should be to legalize specific drugs that will save money on enforcement and incarceration costs.
The court system in the U.S. is overwhelmed with criminals being charged with numerous drug-related infractions. Rather than sentencing these criminals to jail or prison, more offenders should be sentenced to rehabilitation programs for treatment. “The number of drug courts has exploded in recent years along with rising numbers of drug offenders. In 1989, just one drug court existed in the U.S.; today, there are over 2700” (Flock, 2013). Drug courts have done a good job in diverting defendants into treatment over the years, but it is still not enough. “While substance abusers with adequate resources generally make use of private treatment providers to address their problems, low-income drug users are more likely to become involved in the criminal justice system due in part to the shortage of treatment options available to them” ("Drug Policy And The Criminal Justice System", 2001). Federal and state funding should be made more readily available to help cover the costs of treatment for individuals that want the help but cannot afford it. This would not only help prevent repeat charges for an offender, but it would also help with the overcrowding of correctional facilities.
Correctional Facilities A large portion of inmates in correctional facilities are serving time due to drug charges. Correctional facilities should not be used to house people who have petty drug charges. The overcrowding in correctional facilities is partly because of the numerous people there for committing drug-related offenses. A better punishment for misdemeanor drug charges would be community service. Inmates housed in jail or prison for petty drug charges are exposed to much more violent people and bad habits behind bars than they would serving the community and learning from his/her mistake(s). Allowing offenders to serve his/her sentence within the community allows them to re-enter a society that is not full of criminals. There are drugs in prisons and jails, so inmates are still being exposed to harmful habits while servicing his/her sentence within a correctional facility.
As long as drugs are present in the United States and all around the world, the criminal justice system will be affected. The court system and correctional institutions are just a few areas within the justice system that are affected by the war on drugs. Reducing the sentence for minor drug offenses would be a start in the right direction to help with the overloaded court system and the overcrowded correctional facilities. The war on drugs was a great idea initially, but it was launched prematurely without a proper plan. The intent was to reduce the illegal drug trade, but the Global Commission on Drug Policy released a report on June 2, 2011 alleging