What Happens To The Imprisoned If You Legalize Controlled Substances?
If, in an imaginary world, we were to legalize - or even just make it a misdemeanor to use - illegal drugs (Pot, Cocaine, Meth, etc.) what would we do with the people already in jail for those crimes? It seems we, by we I mean legislators, would be faced with choosing between two options. They could keep them imprisoned, what they did was illegal when they did it. Or, they could write the laws such that they were retroactive - essentially freeing people currently incarcerated. Derek’s recent post about the “Unintended Consequences of Congress’s Actions” got me thinking. Previously, I might have said that the only fair thing would be to free them, now I’m not so sure that’s a good idea.
The prison system has some serious problems. One of the problems is that prison to often serves as a way for criminals to make criminal contacts and grow in their chosen ‘trade’. I worry that, perhaps, the criminals locked up for drug related charges will not be the same people who get released if a law like this were to be retroactive. Would we find a group of people with chips on their shoulders and new skills learned in jail or a group of people ready to accept responsibility for their past actions and move on to become productive members of society. I’m not sure… but Derek’s post has certainly made me take a second look at this.