Pubdate: Wed, 03 Sep 2003
Source: Pensacola News Journal (FL)
Copyright: 2003 The Pensacola News Journal
Author: Steve Hach


In response to the recent story on crime rates and prison
overcrowding, it is important to note that almost one-third of
drug-related admissions to our state prisons are for possession
offenses. At current incarceration levels, the state prison system
spends over $230 million per year just to house drug offenders.

Our sentencing priorities are so far out of balance that non-violent
drug offenders are often given mandatory prison terms that run longer
on average than those given to murderers and rapists.

Florida Drug Czar James McDonough and Gov. Jeb Bush vociferously
opposed efforts to reform Florida drug laws so that all non-violent
drug offenders would receive the same deal provided to the governor's
drug-addicted daughter Noelle -- treatment instead of costly jail sentences.

Had the "treatment, not jail" initiative been made law, our prisons
would not be facing a huge wave of petty drug offenders and there
would be far more cells available for truly dangerous criminals.

It is time for Floridians to challenge the drug control strategy of
Drug Czar McDonough and Gov. Bush. Their failed prohibitionist
policies flood our prisons with petty drug offenders and result in an
ever-increasing burden on taxpayers.


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