Prison Populations Surging Due to Over-Policing of Non-Violent Offenses
When you think of prison, it’s possible you think of a dark, dank place packed with violent criminals and murderers. This is usually how prisons are portrayed in movies and on television, leaving people who do not work in criminal justice (or who have not visited prison themselves) with a vastly incorrect view of what prison is actually like. The truth is that a great majority of inmates are actually non-violent offenders serving time as a result of over-policing and over-sentencing.
In fact, only a small percentage of inmates are currently imprisoned due to violent offenses. Consider the stats: 50% of the United States prison population (in 2014) is serving time on a drug-related charge. Only 2.8% are in prison for homicide, aggravated assault, or kidnapping offenses. Immigration charges account for 10.6% of inmates, yet weapons violations account for only 5.4%. When you study the statistics it’s easy to see that the United States’ over-aggressive policy on non-violent crimes is a major contributing factor to the vast overcrowding we’re currently seeing in our prisons.
When combined, non-violent immigration and drug offenders account for over 60% of all incarcerated individuals. 27.6% of drug offenders were convicted of charges related to marijuana, which is now legal in two U.S. states with activist groups working to turn the other 48 via voter initiatives and legislation changes. That’s a staggering number of prisoners serving time for a non-violent crime that may not even be a crime in Washington or Colorado (circumstances vary due to the legal limits on possession in these states).
The federal prison population has increased by 790% since 1980; drug crimes started to see heavy prosecution in the 80s and this method of enforcement has continued well into the 21st century. If you’re fighting non-violent charges in court, bringing in a leader in criminal defense in Michigan will help you to be aware of your rights and to ensure those rights are served. Don’t become another statistic.
For more information or inquiries please visit www.AttorneyPeterJohnson.com or contact us at 269.982.1100. Peter J. Johnson is a leading provider of criminal defense in Michigan, and an advocate for change of policy for non-violent offenses.