In a few weeks, the bi-partisan panel put together to assess the drug sentences of thousands of prisoners will release the first 5,500 federal inmates.
The news headlines would have you worried thousands of murderers and rapists will soon return to the streets of our hometowns and utter chaos will ensue. But that simply isn’t the case.
The offenders who are set to be released have been vetted by a judge who weighs whether there is a threat to public safety. Many are non-violent offenders who are serving time for crimes without a victim. Some are serving under mandatory minimums and could be facing decades in prison for simple drug charges that happened in their late teenage years. In many of the cases, however, the average sentence will be cut by a little over two years.
Even those conservatives who do not believe the United States is suffering from the ‘War on Drugs’ can give credit to the fiscally conservative and limited government arguments in favor of releasing many of these inmates. Here are just a few:
- It saves taxpayers millions of dollars every year. The cost of incarcerating non-violent offenders is astronomical. The Federal Bureau of Prisons said in 2014 that the average cost of annual incarceration of federal inmates is $30,619.85.
- For just the 5,500 released in phase 1, consider this:
- $63,791.35 (avg 25 months of incarceration shaved from sentenced) X 5,500 (No. of inmates) = $350,852,425.
- It’s estimated that nearly 40,000 inmates could benefit from early release. Just considering the average of 25 months off the sentence, that’s $2,551,654,000.
- It makes taxpayers money. Inmates released early are placed on parole or probation, both of which have fines associated with them on a monthly basis. City and state governments both stand to gain financially from those fees. The average is about $100 per month on probation.
- Conservatives are supposed to oppose federal control. Aside from trafficking across state lines, why do we have federal drug laws? If conservatives feel that drug laws are absolutely necessary to the degree they are in place today, why at the federal level? Should it not be left up to the state? Shouldn’t each state have the authority to govern their drug laws as they see fit?
- Remember: Everyone in Georgia who is benefiting from the CBD oil under Haleigh’s HOPE Act is committing a federal offense by bringing it here and possessing it. The State of Georgia simply granted amnesty for those possessing it under Georgia law. Are conservatives for or against that?
Currently, nearly 50% of the U.S. prison population is made up of non-violent drug offenders and as of September 2015, over 200,000 people sat in federal prison and more than 93,000 of them because of drug offenses. Just in federal prison.
Conservatives cannot deny the issue that smacking both taxpayers and the legal system in the face: we’re spending too much where it doesn’t count and we’re allocating resources and responsibilities to the federal government where we shouldn’t be.