A recent Pew Research study says jail is not the place for non-violent drug users. The survey states that 87 percent of people characterized drug abuse as either a “crisis” or a “serious problem” in the U.S.
Although that number hasn’t changed much in nearly twenty years. What has changed is how Americans are framing the problem, and how they want to approach it. Two thirds of respondents said that moving away from mandatory prison terms for nonviolent drug crimes is a good idea. In 2001 fewer than half of Americans felt that way. The survey asked 1,821 Americans, “In dealing with drug policy, should government focus more on providing treatment for people who use illegal drugs such as heroin and cocaine, or do you think it should focus more on prosecuting people who use these types of drugs?”
This reflects a growing understanding of drug abuse as a public health issue, and the data suggests that the majority of Americans think we should be treating addiction as a disease that requires treatment, rather than prosecuting it as a crime. The complete report, America’s New Drug Policy Landscape, is available here.
[h/t: The Atlantic, Pew Research]