prison overcrowding

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U.S.: Poll Reveals Bipartisan Support Among Voters For Reducing Prison Population

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An overwhelming consensus exists among American voters about how to reduce the U.S. prison population, according to a new national survey focused on criminal justice reform.

The American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday released results from the survey, which reveal an overwhelming consensus among voters of the three leading political parties and various political leanings about how to reduce the U.S. prison population and the path forward to reform.

Commissioned by the ACLU and administered by the Benenson Strategy Group, the national survey was conducted from June 2-6. All respondents were registered voters who are likely to vote in the 2016 presidential election.

The survey found, in part:

• Republicans and Democrats alike say that communities will be safer when the criminal justice system reduces the number of people behind bars and increases the treatment of mental illness and addiction, which are seen as primary root causes of crime.

• Overall, 69 percent of voters say it is important for the country to reduce its prison populations, including 81 percent of Democrats, 71 percent of independents, and 54 percent of Republicans.

• In a sharp shift away from the 1980s and 1990s, when incarceration was seen as a tool to reduce crime, voters now believe by two-to-one that reducing the prison population will make communities safer by facilitating more investments in crime prevention and rehabilitation strategies.

Louisiana: Gov. Bobby Jindal Signs Marijuana Sentencing Reform Law

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New Law an Important Step Toward Reducing Louisiana’s Notoriously Overcrowded Prisons and Jails

Even With This Reform, Louisiana’s Marijuana Laws Remain Harsher Than Nearly All Other U.S. States; Majority of Louisianans Support Ending All Criminal Penalties for Marijuana Possession

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal on Tuesday signed legislation to reform the state’s severely punitive marijuana laws and reduce criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession. The law is expected to save the state up to $17 million and will reduce the chances of Louisianans caught with small amounts of marijuana ending up with lengthy jail or prison sentences or saddled with a criminal conviction.

“Louisiana's overdue for a major overhaul of its drug policies and this is a good first step,” said Yolande Cadore, director of strategic partnerships at Drug Policy Action, the lobbying arm of the Drug Policy Alliance. “It's a relief to see that smart policymakers are starting to recognize this political reality.”

The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world – and Louisiana has the highest rate in the U.S. Louisiana’s incarceration rate has doubled in the last twenty years and is nearly five times higher than Iran's, 13 times higher than China's and 20 times higher than Germany's.

One of the key drivers of Louisiana’s world-leading incarceration rate is the war on drugs – 18,000 Louisiana residents are arrested for drug law violations each year.

Louisiana: Gov. Bobby Jindal Expected To Sign Law Reducing Marijuana Penalties

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New Law Would Be Important Step Toward Reducing Louisiana’s Notoriously Overcrowded Prisons and Jails

Even With This Reform, Louisiana’s Marijuana Laws Would Remain Harsher Than Nearly All Other U.S. States; Majority of Louisianans Support Ending All Criminal Penalties for Marijuana Possession

The Louisiana Legislature on Monday voted to reform its state’s severely punitive marijuana laws and reduce criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession. If signed into law, it’s expected to save the state up to $17 million and will reduce the chances of Louisianans caught with small amounts of marijuana ending up with lengthy jail or prison sentences or saddled with a criminal conviction.

“This is a long-sought opportunity to take a more compassionate and commonsense approach to marijuana,” said Yolande Cadore, director of strategic partnerships at the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Louisiana's overdue for a major overhaul of its drug policies and this is a good first step."

The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world – and Louisiana has the highest rate in the U.S. Louisiana’s incarceration rate has doubled in the last 20 years and is nearly five times higher than Iran's, 13 times higher than China's and 20 times higher than Germany's.

One of the key drivers of Louisiana’s world-leading incarceration rate is the war on drugs – 18,000 Louisiana residents are arrested for drug law violations each year.

Louisiana: Senate Approves Bill To Reform Draconian Marijuana Possession Law

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New Law Would Be Important Step Toward Reducing Louisiana’s Notoriously Overcrowded Prisons and Jails

Bill Now Heads to the House

Louisiana’s Senate on Monday took an important step toward reforming their state’s harsh marijuana possession law when they approved bill SB 241 by a vote of 27-12. If passed, Louisiana would join the growing number of states that have recently reduced penalties for small amounts of marijuana.

“This is a long-sought opportunity to take a more compassionate and commonsense approach to marijuana,” said Yolande Cadore, director of strategic partnerships at the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Louisiana's overdue for a major overhaul of its drug policies and this is a good first step."

The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world – and Louisiana has the highest rate in the U.S. Louisiana’s incarceration rate has doubled in the last twenty years and is nearly five times higher than Iran's, 13 times higher than China's and 20 times higher than Germany's. One of the key drivers of Louisiana’s world-leading incarceration rate is the war on drugs – 18,000 Louisiana residents are arrested for drug law violations each year.

U.S. Atty. Gen. Holder Urges Reduced Sentences For Nonviolent Drug Offenses

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Follows on Footsteps of White House’s Recent Call For Clemency Candidates

The U.S. Department of Justice has thrown its support behind an initiative from the federal Sentencing Commission that would reduce sentences for potentially thousands of nonviolent drug offenders who are currently in federal prison.

Last month, the U.S. Sentencing Commission approved a proposal that will reduce sentences for future drug offenders. Attorney General Eric Holder has now announced his backing for a separate proposal by the Commission that would apply retroactivity to these recently reduced sentences.

The proposal could affect between 20,000 and 50,000 nonviolent offenders currently in jail, and save taxpayers an estimated $2.4 billion.

“As a former, first-time, nonviolent drug offender I applaud Attorney General Eric Holder for supporting the retroactive proposal being considered by the U.S. Sentencing Commission," said Anthony Papa of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), who served 12 years under New York’s Rockefeller Drug Laws. Papa was given clemency by Gov. Pataki in 1997.

"Many prisoners that would become eligible have paid their debt to society and deserve a second chance to be reunited with their families and become productive tax-paying citizens," Papa said. "This move would help correct sentencing laws that have broken our criminal justice system and led to the mass incarceration of many low-level nonviolent drug offenders.”

U.S.: Groundbreaking Report: America Needs To Significantly Reduce Prison Population

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U.S. Has Less Than 5% of World’s Population but Nearly 25% of People Behind Bars; Drug War Fueled Prison Explosion

A groundbreaking report released on Wednesday by the National Research Council, the principal operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences, documents the unprecedented and costly price of U.S. incarceration rates.

With less than five percent of the world’s population but nearly 25 percent of the world’s prisoners, the United States continues to rank first among nations in both prison and jail population and per capita rates. As the report points out, this unprecedented rate of incarceration is a relatively new phenomenon in U.S. history. America’s prison population exploded largely as a result of the failed Drug War policies of the last 40 years.

The report, commissioned by the National Institute of Justice and the MacArthur Foundation, documents how the Drug War has contributed to the skyrocketing U.S prison population and the staggering costs associated with mass incarceration. The report points out that U.S. incarceration rates are 5-10 times higher than rates in Western Europe and other major democracies.

The report also documents the staggering racial disparities in drug enforcement and incarceration.

The report calls for a significant reduction in rates of imprisonment and says that the rise in the U.S. prison population is “not serving the country well.” It concludes that in order to significantly lower prison rates, the U.S. should revise its drug enforcement and sentencing laws.

Oregon: Mandatory Minimums Repealed For Drug Offenses; Probation Expanded For Marijuana

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Strategy Intended To Avert Prison Growth

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Oregon Legislature has passed a broad criminal justice bill, HB 3194, that is projected to avert all of the state's anticipated prison growth over the next decade. The bill repeals mandatory minimums for nonviolent drug offenses, and expands the use of presumptive probation in marijuana offenses.

The Oregon House passed the measure last Wednesday by a vote of 40-18; the Oregon Senate approved it 19-11 on Monday.

Without action by the Legislature, Oregon's prison population was projected to grow by 2,000 inmates in the next 10 years. This growth, fueled mostly by nonviolent drug offenses, would have cost taxpayers an additional $600 million.

In order to get Oregon a better return on its public safety dollars, state officials launched a bipartisan working group to analyze sentencing and corrections trends and to generate policy recommendations for the Legislature. The Oregon Commission on Public Safety used state-level data, the growing body of national research about what works in corrections, and meetings with criminal justice experts to develop the policy options that served as a foundation for HB 3194.

"Oregon's public safety package reflects an emerging national consensus on criminal justice policy that locking up more nonviolent offenders for longer prison terms isn't the best way to fight crime and reduce recidivism," said Adam Gelb, director of The Pew Charitable Trusts' public safety performance project.

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