a bird and a bottle


From the Department of Not Surprising But Still Disgusting
February 28, 2007, 10:27 pm
Filed under: criminal justice, news

It shouldn’t be surprising at this point: Mandatory minimum drug sentences, particularly those for crack cocaine, disproportionately harm the Black community.

In Maryland, 9 of 10 people incarcerated in Maryland prisons because of drug mandatory minimums are African American. Yet study after study shows that drug use is as common among White people; they just get arrested much less often.

Maryland, like the federal government, is considering changing its drug sentencing laws. But Maryland is not just evening out crack and cocaine sentence disparities; instead it is considering repealing the mandatory minimums and implementing a policy that would allow judges discretion when sentencing drug offenders. Though this makes me a little nervous about the “law and order” judges who will continue to sentence overly harshly, the proposal is much more good than bad. Drug addiction is a public health problem that has for too long been treated as a crime.

Maryland is ahead of the curve in the U.S. in its acknowledgment that drug addiction should be addressed through treatment. But it’s more than that — the treatment must be community-based, must be available to pregnant and parenting women, and must accept Medicaid as payment. Otherwise the promise of treatment is empty — or at least only half full.

via Crim Prof Blog.

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