Prison isn’t the Solution to Drug Crimes

The opioid crisis has taken over various states, including West Virginia. The death toll and imprisonment rates continue to increase. The US criminal justice system, as it stands, has failed to solve a major problem that is affecting our communities.

In the past 10 years, deaths from drug overdoses have increased by roughly 52 percent in the US. Shockingly, the overdose rates in WV increased 11.2 percent from 2016 to 2017.

 

 

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/sosmap/drug_poisoning_mortality/drug_poisoning.htm
Source: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/sosmap/drug_poisoning_mortality/drug_poisoning.htm

 

Nearly one third of fatal overdoses in WV are caused by fentanyl.

The map below shows the top five counties in WV for fatal drug overdoses. The majority of the markers are grouped in the southern part of the state.

 

The response regarding nonviolent drug crimes and the opioid crisis has been mass incarceration.

One in five of those incarcerated are locked up due to drug offense(s). Of the 2.3 million people held by the US justice system, 456,000 are being held for nonviolent drug offenses.

The threat of imprisonment has not been a successful deterrent to drug use and crime. While the prison population has increased, the deaths via misuse of drug has followed suit – The “War on Drugs” has failed.

The libertarian push to end the “War on Drugs” does equate to advocation of drug abuse. The “War on Drugs” has imprisoned countless nonviolent individuals and has empowered the black market to pour fatal/additive drugs into our communities.

Rather than burdening taxpayers with the high costs of incarceration, there should be a strong push for lawmakers to consider alternative treatments and prevention strategies for those who suffer from addiction.

 

 

 

 

 

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