Maryland Ends Mandatory Minimums For Drug Users, Lets Non-Violent Offenders Out Early

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    On Monday, as the 90-day session of the Maryland General Assembly came to an end, lawmakers agreed to make sweeping changes to their criminal justice policies. In particular, they voted to end mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders.

    This is a huge victory in the war on drugs.

    Mixed in with a slew of tax legislation were two components that are nothing short of revolutionary in the way the state handles non-violent drug users. Instead of categorizing drug users, whose only crime is using an arbitrary substance deemed illegal by the state, as criminals, the state of Maryland will help them.


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    In Maryland, the prisons have been filling up with individuals who have been kidnapped by police for possessing certain substances. While many of these people are legitimate addicts, some of them are responsible users who just so happen to cross paths with police. Either way, they all rot in a jail cell which only serves to prolong any previous problems — and, in fact, leads to non-criminals turning into criminals because of influences on the inside.

    The cost to treat an addict versus locking one in a cage is stark in contrast. The price of treating someone for their problem instead of kidnapping and caging them is less than half. When costs are reduced so dramatically, police can actually tend to real crime instead of filling prisons with drug users.

     

    The other facet to this revolutionary legislation is that it will allow non-violent offenders locked up for drugs and other petty crimes to be released from prison far earlier. This is incredible news for family members who’ve lost brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers to the state’s incessant war on substances.

    Maryland now becomes one of nearly two dozen other states to realize the Draconian nature of mandatory minimum sentences, and as more people wake up, more states will follow suit.

    In a surprising addition, lawmakers also negotiated details in a police accountability package that would let citizens participate in officer disciplinary boards, set tougher training standards and encourage law enforcement agencies across the state to develop better relationships with the communities they police, according to the Baltimore Sun.

    Naturally, the police union was outspoken about the potential for their officers to face the consequences of their actions and voiced their ‘concern’ during negotiations. Unfortunately, this limited the scope of the accountability measures.

    The legislation passed the House with a bipartisan vote of 122-19, with the opponents being highly outspoken.

    As the Journal reports, Del. Pat McDonough, R-Baltimore County, who was among the lawmakers who voted against the legislation, said he was concerned about a lack of treatment slots for those who would be directed to rehabilitation under the bill. He also questioned whether the measure would truly improve public safety as intended.

    “If this bill is flawed, we are going to pay in bloodshed,” McDonough said as if to imply all drug users are somehow violent or holding police accountable means that people die. “We’re talking about putting more people in a safety net that doesn’t exist.”

    The good news is that this vote shows that people like McDonough are a dying breed. While most politicians want to continue prohibition, they are finding the economic and scientific implications for ending it hard to ignore. Slowly but surely, dinosaur politicians are waking up to the immoral and ineffective atrocities of waging a war on drugs.

    There is zero justification for kidnapping someone and locking them in a cage for choosing to partake in an arbitrary substance deemed “illegal” by the state. Locking people in prison, even for non-crimes such as drug possession, guarantees a drastic increase in that person’s chances of ending up in the criminal justice system again.

    This vicious cycle is so well known that it has its own word: recidivism.

    Referring to the caging of morally innocent human beings for victimless crimes as “rehabilitation,” is a sick joke. Scarring someone’s future potential by removing their ability get a decent job, creating an incentive to delve back into the criminal market, is not rehabilitation, it’s nefarious.


    Matt Agorist is the co-founder of TheFreeThoughtProject.com, where this article first appeared. He is an honorably discharged veteran of the USMC and former intelligence operator directly tasked by the NSA. This prior experience gives him unique insight into the world of government corruption and the American police state. Agorist has been an independent journalist for over a decade and has been featured on mainstream networks around the world.

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      • malcolmkyle

        Some simple facts:

        Our policy regarding drugs is in the hands of frauds, liars and two bit crooks. Until they are removed from office or/and in handcuffs, poverty will increase, injustice will prevail and perversity will continue to rule.

        A rather large majority of people will always feel the need to use drugs such as heroin, opium, nicotine, amphetamines, alcohol, or caffeine.

        Just as it was impossible to prevent alcohol from being produced and used in the U.S. in the 1920s, so too, it is equally impossible to prevent any of the aforementioned drugs from being produced and widely used by those who desire to do so.

        Due to Prohibition (historically proven to be an utter failure at every level), the availability of most of these mood-altering drugs has become so universal and unfettered that in any city of the civilized world, any one of us would be able to procure practically any drug we wish within an hour.

        The massive majority of people who use drugs do so recreationally – getting high at the weekend then up for work on a Monday morning.

        A very small minority of people will always experience drug use as problematic.

        Throughout history, the prohibition of any mind-altering substance has always exploded usage rates, overcrowded jails, fueled organized crime, created rampant corruption of law-enforcement – even whole governments, while inducing an incalculable amount of suffering and death.

        The involvement of the CIA in running Heroin from Vietnam, Southeast Asia and Afghanistan and Cocaine from Central America has been well documented by the 1989 Kerry Committee report, academic researchers Alfred McCoy and Peter Dale Scott, and the late journalist Gary Webb.

        It’s not even possible to keep drugs out of prisons, but prohibitionists wish to waste hundreds of billions of our money in an utterly futile attempt to keep them off our streets.

        Prohibition kills more people and ruins more lives than the prohibited drugs have ever done.

        The United States jails a larger percentage of it’s own citizens than any other country in the world, including those run by the worst totalitarian regimes, yet it has far higher use/addiction rates than most other countries.

        As with torture, prohibition is a grievous crime against humanity. If you support it, or even simply tolerate it by looking the other way while others commit it, you are an accessory to a very serious moral transgression against humanity.

        The United States re-legalized certain drug use in 1933. That drug was alcohol and the 21st amendment re-legalized its production, distribution and sale. Both alcohol consumption and violent crime dropped immediately as a result. And very soon after, the American economy climbed out of that same prohibition engendered abyss into which it had foolishly fallen.

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      • Dean Becker

        When euphoria is a crime, everybody must suffer.