Our drug laws crowd our prisons

Drug decriminalization is the best option for fixing the problem of overcrowded state prisons.

Maddie Eaton

Right now, there are about 10,000 inmates in Minnesota’s state prisons — and the facilities are overflowing. As a result, there are an additional 500 prisoners housed in county jails around the state.
 
Recently, the state created a task force to fix this problem. The task force, which met Friday, has recommended two options: decrease prison populations or construct new prisons. 
 
Although building new prisons might solve the issue temporarily, it would be an incredibly costly option. What’s more, it wouldn’t prevent additional prisoners from being convicted due to petty drug crimes. 
 
In contrast, reducing prison populations is a practical, cost-effective solution. According to the United States Bureau  of Justice Statistics, there were more than 47,000 prisoners in state prisons for drug possession as of Dec. 31, 2013. People convicted for possession do not account for the majority of the state prison population, but
decriminalization would decrease Minnesota’s problem with overcrowding. 
 
After drug decriminalization, law enforcement officers could spend less time on drug busts and more time on what really matters — the safety of the general public. Doing this would not only improve relations between law enforcement and the public but also create a sense of security for citizens in the community.
 
Therefore, rather than punish struggling drug users, it seems much more logical to provide help for them by sending them to rehabilitation facilities. Doing this would reduce the number of people in prisons and also help aid the issue of substance abuse.