While We're At It, Let's Free All Nonviolent Drug Offenders

Attorney general Eric Holder has come out in favor of reduced sentences for thousands of people currently imprisoned on nonviolent crack cocaine convictions. (A recent law corrected the insane sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine; Holder is simply recommending that the new sentencing guidelines be applied to some people already in jail.) That's a great first step. Then can we let out all the other drug war victims, too?

California has already been ordered to release thousands of people from its inhumanely overcrowded prisons. Why are all of our nation's prisons so god damn full? Because of the great War on Drugs. Which is officially a failure!

The end of this movie is clear. Let's skip all the stuff in the middle. Filling our prisons with nonviolent drug offenders is dumb, it doesn't do anything about the drug problem, it's unjust, and besides, we can't afford it. Let's cut the bullshit. Start cutting nonviolent drug crimes down to misdemeanors, or less. And make the new sentencing laws retroactive, so we can free thousands of people from prisons they never had any business being in. Imprisoning poor people who sell drugs to make a little money creates far more problems than it solves. Leaving aside the fundamental issues of injustice, it creates an entire class of angry unemployable young men with criminal records, who will then be much more tempted to make a career out of crime when they get out. And it's still as easy to buy drugs as it's ever been. What the hell is the point?

Let's open the prisons. In an organized manner. Let the dangerous, sociopathic, violent people stay. Let the nonviolent drug offenders out. With an apology note, from the rest of America. We do the drugs. They paid for it. This movie sucks.

[Photo: AP]