A House of Representatives task force in Washington D.C. is rethinking the harsh federal prison terms imposed on non-violent drug offenses. The task force, created in early May 2013 by the House Judiciary Committee, will investigate where the federal criminal code over-criminalizes minor offenses. Advocates, lawmakers and citizens hope that the task force will lead to an eventual reduction in the massive federal prison population.
The group faces a formidable task: review the entirety of the estimated 4,500 federal crimes contained in the U.S. code. Many House progressives, such as Representatives Cohen (Democrat, Tennessee) and Jeffries (Democrat, New York), are hoping that the review will serve as an opportunity to narrow in on outdated federal drug laws. “It’s my understanding that every issue is on the table, and this will be a really robust, bipartisan effort to take a look at the federal criminal code,” Jeffries said.
Two years ago, Senator Jim Webb (Democrat, Virginia) introduced a similar federal commission to investigate reasons why the federal prison population is so massive. However, a Republican filibuster blocked then bill, in part over conservatives’ concerns that it would lead to the legalization of marijuana. Pleased that the measure is back on the table, Jennifer Bellamy, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, said her organization will push for changes that would greatly reduce the federal prison population. “I think the fiscal crisis has really created an opportunity for some bipartisan alliances on the issue. I think a lot of folks are concerned about the cost” of mass incarceration, stated Bellamy.
Concerns about extreme federal prison overcrowding, and its related problems, are well founded: the U.S. has by far the largest prison population in the world. There are currently 500 persons incarcerated in the federal prison system for every 100,000 citizens in the U.S., a statistic that has been grossly inflated by the war on drugs. From an economic viewpoint, for 2014 the Obama Administration has requested $8.5 billion solely to fund prisons and detention costs.
Regardless of the billions spent annually funding the war on drugs and the thousands of citizens currently serving harsh federal sentences for minor marijuana offenses, a November 2012 national telephone survey found that only 7% of U.S. adults feel that the government is winning the war on drugs. With such extreme pessimism by voters, one can be hopeful that the House’s over-criminalization task force will take a hard look at the federal code.
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Gilbert Garcia has been Passionately Pursuing Justice for over 30 years and founded The Gilbert G. Garcia Law Firm in 2008. The Gilbert G. Garcia Law Firm is a boutique law firm, specializing in Criminal Defense. Gilbert represents adults and juveniles accused of a crime and who have with a felony, misdemeanor or record cleaning case. Conveniently located on the courthouse square to serve Montgomery and Walker Counties. Gilbert became Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 1989. The Gilbert G. Garcia Law Firm is located at 220 N. Thompson St., Suite 202, Conroe, TX 77301. www.ggglawfirm.com.
Drug Related Charges may include: Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Controlled Substance, Possession of Dangerous Drug, Manufacturing a Dangerous Drug/Controlled Substance, Delivery or Intent to Deliver Marijuana/Dangerous Drug/Controlled Substance, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and many other drug related charges.