Incarceration is not the answer in so many cases. Candidates for Los Angeles County District Attorney are finally getting this. Locking up drug addicts serves no one. In fact, studies have shown that even locking up low level drug dealers does nothing to deter crime. Rehabilitation and crime prevention is the way forward.
One of my clients was sentenced to “time-served” yesterday in a case which involved a large quantity of cocaine. My client was a minimal participant in a conspiracy to distribute the drug. His roll in the conspiracy was simply to hold onto the drugs for a family member. Because he was indicted in federal court, he was facing a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years. However, because he played a minor roll and had only one minor prior conviction for reckless driving, the court was able to sentence him to less than the mandatory minimum. There were many very compelling mitigating factors in his case. Among those factors was the fact that my client obtained his high school diploma while he was incarcerated awaiting sentence. At the sentencing hearing, the District Court Judge stated that my client had displayed extraordinary rehabilitation and therefore, he did not believe that my client would re-offend.
The assistant United States Attorney who was handling the case for the government stated at the sentencing hearing that, “There is no benefit to society in warehousing a courier. What he did was stupid. He is not an experienced drug trafficker. There is no point in imposing a draconian sentence for a defendant like this.” I cannot tell you how much I respect this prosecutor’s attitude. He is right!
So many prosecutors get caught up in an attitude of “I’m going to lock everyone up and throw away the key.'” Who does that serve? Especially at a time where prisons are being forced to reduce their population. If more and more drug addicts are sentenced to jail terms, more and more serious or violent offenders will serve shorter and shorter sentences. So, rehabilitating rather than incarcerating drug addicts actually benefits society. It’s common sense.
A drug addict who is incarcerated for possession of narcotics will return to jail over and over again. Unless they receive rehabilitation they will continue in this cycle. This only costs taxpayers millions of dollars and to what end?
It is such a relief to see that the political climate has changed to the point where candidates for District Attorney are free to take a position of promoting rehabilitation rather than incarceration for every defendant. It’s about time!