Six big things reclassifying possession of drugs from a felony to
a misdemeanor can do:
1) Save taxpayer dollars
2) Safely reduce incarceration
3) Invest in alternatives to prison, including drug treatment
4) Keep families together
5) Improve police-community relations
6) Let people work in jobs they're best at, improving the local tax base
Six states that cover a wide political spectrum have already
reclassified drug possession:
Utah, Connecticut, Oklahoma, California, Alaska, and Colorado.
All these states' reclassification laws are a little different.
Oklahoma, for example, made their law retroactive to include an
expedited expungement process that would erase most long ago simple
drug possession charges. Virginia can learn from those state's
experiences in crafting a bill that best suits the needs of Virginia.
People that are working in jobs that they are best qualified at earn more
money, pay more taxes, are less likely to engage in criminal activity, are
more likely to develop healthy relationships, marry, and have stable
families with happy children.
People that are unable to find work or housing, locked out of student
aid, are more likely to be in poor health are going to see illegal means
of earning any money as their only choice in spite of the risks.
People that have an income and a place to live are FAR less likely to
commit crimes. It is not in our own best interest to perpetuate these
All this is in the face of mounting research that incarceration isn’t
an effective response to drug abuse. A Pew Charitable Trusts study
found no significant relationship between rates of imprisonment for
drug offenses and rates of drug use, overdose deaths, or drug arrests.
Yet we spend billions of dollars on prisons, thinking it is.
3-min summary of what happens when states defelonize drugs.
2. Detailed analysis of reclassification of drug possession laws. Includes a summary
of each state that has implemented such policies.
3. The analysis found no statistically significant relationship
between state drug imprisonment rates and three indicators of state
drug problems: self-reported drug use, drug overdose deaths, and drug
4. Excerpt: "Making the reforms in State Question 780 retroactive not
only upholds the will of the people, the voters of our state, but it
also opens up a lot of opportunities for individuals who have that
scarlet letter hanging around their neck to have that removed and it
affords those individuals the opportunity to move forward in life in a
very healthy and positive way."
5. Excerpt: 1-minute video of a Dad telling about his son that got a felony record for drug possession which prevented him from getting a job which tore him up. He got clean but relapsed and died of an overdose. This is from OH but I'm sure there are similar stories here in VA.
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