Monday, January 14, 2013
Will increasing drug arrests once again overflow Texas prisons ?
Arrests for drug simple possession have increased 32% over the last decade, and about 90% of all drug related arrests are possession based and not for distribution, says a recent article in the Texas Tribune. In 2011, 27,000 offenders were in Texas prisons for possession of drugs, while only 16,000 were serving time for distribution. So what does that tell us ? Well with the Legislature cutting or under funding diversion programs and rehab facilities for drug users that means MONEY. Ana Yáñez Correa, executive director of the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, stated that the recent dip in prison incarceration numbers would soon rise again if some thought didn't go back into diversion programs for users.
So whats more expensive ? The diversion programs or the prison stay ? Well we all know the answer to that question. With budget cuts for schools, and state programs still looming this Legislative session as they did last, it could be wise to weigh the two options carefully. Some even ask the question, should we even be spending our time concerned about putting drug users in jail in the first place ? States like California, and even now Colorado allow personal use of marijuana for medical reasons. Is a full recreational usage bill right around the corner ? Either way, if something doesn't change, the state is projected to once again exceed capacity by 2014. We will be watching closely at how the Ledge tackles this issue this session.