Recently, a national poll revealed that Americans are increasingly opposed to aggressive prosecution of non-violent drug crimes and lengthy prison sentences. Instead, Americans seem to be in favor of legalizing relatively safe drugs like marijuana and offering treatment to users of harder drugs like cocaine and heroin.
According to the Pew Research Center, only 26 percent of Americans are in favor of prosecuting non-violent users of cocaine and heroin. Two-thirds of those surveyed said they would like to see the government offer chemical dependency treatment instead.
There may be several reasons for this significant shift in public opinion. With heroin specifically, the potency and addictive potential of the drug has led to a scourge of preventable overdose deaths in communities across the United States.
Moreover, the heroin epidemic affects communities of every race and socioeconomic class. Many politicians who have fought for more compassionate and reasonable drug laws have personally experienced tragedies including the loss of a loved one to overdose.
In time we may see drug laws and sentencing guidelines that offer alternatives to incarceration for non-violent offenders. But for now, anyone charged with drug crimes faces serious consequences and needs the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Source: Utah Public Radio, "Survey: Americans Skeptical Of Prison For Non-Violent Drug Crimes," Martin Kaste, April 2, 2014