Drugs Minus Two Retroactive (Amendment 782)
Drugs Minus Two Retroactive
Statement of the Problem
The United States Congress approved In April the previous year, Amendment 782, dubbed Drugs Minus Two, the offense levels for practically every federal drug conviction shall be reduced to two levels. Later in July the same year, the Sentencing Commission had a vote that made the two-tier sentence reduction retroactive. The decision by the commission to give room for a retroactive effect to the 782 Amendment shows that the qualified offenders that have already had their sentences for federal drug offenses and are currently in incarceration can apply to the courts to reduce their sentences according to the provisions of the guidelines.
According to conservative estimates 46000 inmates who are in for federal drug offences between 1991 and the present date, and they qualify for a retroactive reduction of their sentences (Schwartzapfel, 2015). The implementation of the policy was in the aftermath of a reform system that targeted the need to address the underlying issue of drug use as a societal problem than a criminal issue. The policy was also needed to promote options to prison for low-level and non-violent drug transgressors and maintain proportionality in sentencing for drug-linked crimes.
The United States has enacted draconian drug laws in the past that have only served to feeding of prison, contributing to a national prison crisis, and creating a heavy burden on the system. The onset of this drug policy was the rapid statewide decriminalization of bhang in four states with others soon to follow. Moreover, there has been an increasing outcry over the mandatory minimum prison terms for drug-linked offenses, as well as the racial partiality in their application, and the problems to families, individuals and societies in the country are being taken into serious consideration across the country.
The present federal policy reforms was the outcome of other social policy reforms in the states that led the way through introduction of their own relevant reforms. These sentencing reform targeted reduction of incarceration rates without discernible bad influence. On the other hand, the states that introduced such reports noticed a fall in crime rates. The federal officials took notice of the positive outcomes from the state introduced reforms. The United States Department of Justice, then suggested several initiatives that had the drive of heavily reducing the number of prisoners in the federal prisons, with Drug Minus Two Act being one amongst the number that was being introduced. In addition, the Bipartisan support, this reform bill introduced in the Congress was impressive, and showed the grave issue of federal prison problems.
According to Human Rights Watch (2014), the United States has five percent of the world’s population, yet it has more than twenty-five percent of the globe’s prison numbers. The initiatives of the states led to a significant decrease number of incarcerated in the United States, and in fact by late 2013, the number was decrease was estimated to be about 5000 people. The introduction of this new policy in 2014, and with the effect expected in late 2015, more than 12000 people are expected to out of prison this month and the next. However, the number is still quite low, given that about 2.2 million people are still in incarceration in the United States, yet these are still the right steps in the right direction. More significant drug sentencing reform policies are upon the United States Congress to enact legislative transformations. In spite of the nonpartisan push to address the issue of over-incarceration in prisons, there are gridlocks, in political and social systems and this means that more efforts is needed from every sphere of the society. Nonetheless, these initiatives of the United States Department of Justice reform policies shall be clearly beneficial to the society as a whole and prison sector specifically, even though a small number shall be affected. Actually, the law shall provide an impetus to the Department of Justice to initiative further policies that shall help in creating a more conducive environment for similar reforms in the future. The time is appropriate for the country to grasps a strong message to all the stakeholders that unjust drug laws are inappropriate for the present decade, as they should help in treating the disease and not the symptoms. The United States President has led from the from social policy reform on drugs. The legal and regulated bhang markets became the first initiatives. It is absurd that bhang is still an illegal drug under federal law; however, the current federal administration has responded sensibly through recognition of the countrywide support for the state laws on bhang (Lincoln, 2015). Subramanian and Moreno (2014) research, focused on approximately 50 bills that were passed by thirty states in the country that transformed the manner in which drug laws have been defined and enforced in their jurisdictions in a five-year period. Subramanian and Moreno 2014) analyzed the manner in which states have taken to transform and provide a limit on the mandatory sentences and increase judicial discretion. Moreover, it was built to improve the relativity of drug sentencing that include legalizing and decriminalizing of bhang and expanding access to the early discharge chances and increasing societal-based sanctions and options to imprisonment. Moreover, it alleviated the yoke of civil punishment attached. According to Human Rights Watch (2014), the mean federal drug sentence has improved by 250 percent from the first time that the Sentencing Commission first issued a publication of its guidelines. The federal drug sentences have risen, in such a way that a number of people have been incarcerated for drug offenses. Further, Human Rights Watch (2014) insists that the number of imprisoned federal drug defendants increased from a paltry 4749 to a high of 100888, an astounding 2024 percent.
In April last year, mere 50 percent of every federal prisoner was convicted of a drug related offense. In the year 2013, Human Rights (2014), reported that up to 25000 people were convicted in federal courts of drug related offenses.
The root of the Drugs Minus Two amendment was a policy initiative by the federal government to transform overcrowding of the prison system in the country, and driven mainly by drug-linked incarcerations (Bennardo, 2014). The remarkable rise in the number of people that were incarcerated for federal drug transgressions and the rise in length of drug convictions could not be that troubling if the drug offenders in the federal prison were mainly violent mafias and main drug traffickers. However, recent reports show that the high numbers of incarcerated federal drug convicts are couriers, wholesalers and street-level dealers. More than three quarters of the convicts are in the lower tier or middle levels of the drug business, and most drug related convicts have minimal criminal history.
The policy is also important, as it would help in addressing the long held belief that there exists racial disparities incarceration of drug related offenses. Latin Americans and African Americans have a highest proportion of drug offenders’ incarceration.
Discussions and Conclusions
Over the years, there have been retrogressive policies in the United States that have were implemented in the past year that only served in flooding the prison and leading to a countrywide prison crisis, and this created a strong burden on the system. The onset of the policy was set by a rapid decriminalization of marihuana in several states throughout the country, and many others shall follow these steps. In addition, there is a rise in outrage over the federally sanctioned mandatory minimum prison sentence for drug-associated cases, and the racial problems associated with the policy. Moreover, these laws shall heavily affect individual, families , and communities across the country. Consequently, the United States approved an Amendment, the transgressions tiers for almost every federal drug sentences that were to be reduced to two levels. Further, the Sentencing Commission then voted to make a two-tier sentence reduction retroactive. The retroaction by the commission implies that the qualified offenders that have their convictions for drug offenses and in prison can apply to courts to reduce their sentences and address the issue and not merely the symptoms, as is the case with the past laws. The policy initiative was a welcomed move by the federal government in promoting opportunity for non-violent and low-level offenders to sustain uniformity for drug-associated crimes.
Bennardo, K. (2014). A Perspective on the Proposed Amendments to the Drug Distribution
Guideline. Federal Sentencing Reporter, 26(4), 252-257.
Human Rights Watch. (2014 July 7). Human Rights Watch comments to the US Sentencing
Commission on retroactivity of proposed amendments to the Drug Quantity Table. hrw.org. Retrieved 20 November 2015 from https://www.hrw.org/news/2014/07/07/human-rights-watch-comments-us-sentencing-commission-retroactivity-proposedSubramanian, R., & Moreno, R. (2014). Drug War Détente? A Review of State-level Drug Law
Lincoln, E. (2015 January). United States rethinks draconian drug sentencing policies.
International Drug Policy Consortium. Retrieved 20 November 2015 from https://www.tni.org/files/publication-downloads/wola-idpc-sentencing.pdf
Schwartzapfel, B. (2015 July 30). Federal Prisons Could Release 1000 Times More Drug
Offenders Than Obama Did. Newsweek. Retreived 20 November 2015 from http://www.newsweek.com/federal-prisons-could-release-1000-times-more-drug-offenders-obama-did-358541
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