Monday, February 14, 2011

Meth and Misinformation

How did we get such stiff federal meth laws?

Mostly ignorance, says this opinion editorial over at The Daily Caller, by a former Congressional staffer who helped write the harsh mandatory minimum laws for meth:

We drafted a bill to impose the same mandatory minimum sentences on meth trafficking that applied to crack. The bill was not approved by the full Senate, but we successfully attached it to an omnibus appropriations bill and it became law.
People can debate whether the effects of this law have been good or bad, but I can tell you that when we put the bill together, I did not know half of what I should have known. I did not know what the average sentence imposed on meth traffickers was at the time, whether those sentences were sufficient at deterring use, whether alternatives to prison might have been more effective at reducing recidivism, or how much these new, longer sentences would cost the federal government. These are things policymakers — or, at least, the staff they entrust to craft their legislation — should know before making national policy.
The need for evidence-based sentencing policies is greater than ever.  Conservatives in particular call for more accountability for a smaller and more efficient government, so how about starting with the way Congress creates sentencing laws?

Passing harsher sentences without adequate research, hearings, prison bed space and budget impact studies, and exploration of alternatives is begging for a bigger, fatter, more expensive, less effective justice system.

1 Comment:

MAFollett said...

This is a huge issue. The answer to everything seems to be to hide the issue. How is it being hidden? Who is treating these addicts? Not too many people. Who is being rehabilitated? Once again, not too many people. Generally speaking these people are being sentenced to outrageous sentences that do not fit the crime. Why should a drug offense that included no violence or weapons (and or the offender wasn't even holding any drugs when picked up)put someone away for 5, 10 years or more? And why should this person be put away with violent offenders, in terrible living conditions, with little opportunity to work and be productive and then be expected to come out of prison a "better" person? That is not even getting into the cost of housing people far longer than necessary...