Should We Ease Off on Hard Drug Sentencing?

Note: We are not talking about Marijuana in this poll, but hard drugs (cocaine, heroin, meth, crack) or illegally obtained prescription drugs and other drugs.

According to Pew reserach,

The American public appears ready for a truce in the long-running war on drugs: 67% say the government should focus more on providing treatment for those who use illegal drugs such as heroin and cocaine, while just 26% think the government’s focus should be on prosecuting drug users. And nearly two-to-one say it is a good thing, not a bad thing, that some states have moved away from mandatory sentences for non-violent drug offenders.

What do you think?  Should we focus on treatment and ease up on prosecution of drug users?  Of course users and suppliers are different categories, though obviously dependent upon one another.  A perfect poll is not something we could do or our choices would be way too many.

Is the battle lost?  Is drug use too embedded in our culture to the point that we cannot fight it directly?  Choose from the best answer below, even if more than one choice sounds applicable.

It obviously "depends" upon the age of the person involved, whether they are pushing drugs on others, etc.   Also, interventions where children are involved is assumed.

So let's set the scenario we are addressing.  Tom Jones is a middle aged man without children.  He uses cocaine regularly, and is caught with cocaine in his automobile.  What should be done?

We all agree something should be done to help him stop.  Should the courts make him go through detox, put him in jail and fine him (perhaps adding community service), give him 39 lashes (we are talking about ideals here -- don't know if this would happen in modern America), or do nothing?

 

 

Yes, we should only treat drug use like we treat cigarette smoking... try to inform/persuade against it
7% (1 vote)
Yes, we should ease up on sentencing drug users and promote recovery programs.
14% (2 votes)
Yes, we should simply stay out of the issue, prosecuting only those who drive or endanger others with their drug use
0% (0 votes)
Undecided
14% (2 votes)
No, what we are currently doing is the best approach; things would be worse otherwise.
14% (2 votes)
No, instead we need to intensify sentencing/penalties for drug use
7% (1 vote)
No, we need to keep after drug use, but change our approach (like a boot camp instead of jail, a lashing, etc.)
29% (4 votes)
No, we need to prosecute but the sentence should be community service and a program w/out a record
7% (1 vote)
Other
7% (1 vote)
Total votes: 14
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There are 3 Comments

Sean Fericks's picture

I think it all depends on who "we" is.  If "we" is the federal government (my assumption based on the choices listed), we should do nothing.  Personal drug use is not within federal jurisdiction under the Constitution.  If "we" is a state, I think we should discourage (through information and tax breaks for organizations who intervene), but allow use.  If "we" is the church, we should intervene through confrontation, financing medical and psychological intervention, church discipline, helping victimized children, prayer, etc. 

The current drug war is a demonstrable failure.  Non-violent fathers waste away in jail, careers are ruined, cartels are profitable, no-knock raids kill innocent people (and family dogs), liberties are violated, and medicine is hindered (all this with a multi-billion annual price tag).

Aaron Blumer's picture

Surely "lashing" is a non-starter in our culture... and I'm not sure it would work in any culture, really, for this sort of problem.

But, conservative though I am, I favor some social experimentation on this one. I'm not persuaded that the status quo of the last few decades is the best we can do or even that the consequences are especially dire if we try something else and it proves to be a failure. So there is relatively little risk in throwing some creativity at the problem.

Plus, from a deeply Christian perspective, we know people are more than what they do--more than their failures. So effective help--even of the short-term, non-spiritual sort--often can't be reduced to a simple crime-punishment transaction.

I believe in the therapeutic effects of hard work. There's an idea to dust off and see if we can't more with it... from a policy standpoint ('we,' being citizens).

Joeb's picture

A new direction needs to be made since as pointed out previously the war on drugs has been a flop. Also the new heroin users are not your intercity  poor but your middle class young suburban people. I have heard rates as high as 80 percent of new users are from the suburban middle class.  They get started on the pain killers and can no longer afford them after they are hooked and turn to heroin because it is cheaper.  The face of the drug problem has evolved.  Even people on prescribed opiate drugs become addicted and some become despondent with their health situations and self medicate with heroin.  So maybe a more of a treatment approach versus the big stick approach is what's needed.  Maybe a real opportunity for ChristiAns to reach out to people in need and not only lead them to Christ but assist them in moving away from their substance abuse.  Some of you may know this better than me but I recall that during the first heroin problems the faith based treatment centers had a lot higher success rates in moving people away from drugs.  What is the status of these clinics today or have we as believers dropped the ball.