This significance of this paper is to summarize and evaluate the debate on whether the petty drug offenders should be crowding our prisons, and also if some drugs should be legalized or at least decriminalized to reduce our prison populations. This issue is linked to Parenti’s discussion on drugs and the “War of Drugs”. Many of prisons in the United States are over crowded because of the petty offenders and the first time offenders that have minimum mandatory sentences, which are outrageous sentences for these offenders. Parenti notes that “a Federal Judge sentenced a man twenty two years for beating and elderly woman to death. A few hours later the same judge sentenced a 25 year old first time drug offender, father of two young children, to 55 years.” (p.124)
The articles that I have chosen to debate the positives and negatives of reducing mandatory sentencing for drug offenders. This aspect is a very controversial issue right now. Many people are getting sentenced to serve more prison time for petty drug offenses than for murder. These drug offenders are being charged with harsher punishments than that of mobsters, murderers, child molesters, and rapists. The first article is entitled “Prison overcrowding creates a Need for Prison Alternatives”, written by Alida Merlo and Peter Benekos. The second article is written David Risley and is entitled “Mandatory minimum sentences are an Effective Strategy in the War on Drugs”.
The first article states that the incarceration of many criminals is not necessary. The petty offenders are being thrown in jail for many years at a time. With most of the jails and prison populations going up, the government is forced to build new prisons or adding on to existing buildings. The governments, including federal, state, and local, are forced to look at some alternative ways around incarceration because many don’t have the money to build on to their prisons and jails. Some of the alternatives to spending the money on building...
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