Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Prof. Natapoff Writes About Dark Side of Decriminalization

By Professor Alexandra Natapoff

California is doubling down on decriminalization. Three weeks ago, the passage of Prop. 47 converted a half-dozen felonies to misdemeanors. In 2011, marijuana possession was reclassified from a misdemeanor to an infraction without jail time. If Rip Van Winkle fell asleep a decade ago at the height of California’s prison boom and woke up this morning, he’d quickly recognize this as a scramble to undo decades of harsh and expensive policy.

The state is not alone — we are seeing a seismic shift in how the United States handles punishment, especially with respect to misdemeanor decriminalization. Marijuana is the most famous example, but many states are eliminating jail time for other minor offenses, such as driving violations and public order crimes, and replacing them with so-called “nonjailable misdemeanors,” “nonarrestable” or “fine-only” offenses, and “civil infractions.”

Read the complete op-ed.

1 comment:

Colm Barry said...

The problem came with mandatory sentencing, a lot of which was signed into law by Bill Clinton and many states followed suit or preceded him on state-level offences. It was a time when no one wanted to be seen "soft" on crime. However, there were truly monstrous mistakes being made - like "three strikes - you're out" and the US now has the highest prison population per capita of all nations almost, and the "civilized" for sure. However, now prisons have become big business - and like after the repeal of prohibition organized crime remained to stay forever, so will prison operators try and lobby their congressmen etc. to find other ways of keeping the "occupancy rates" high!