In the mid 1980s Congress abolished parole
and passed harsh drug sentencing laws. Many states followed, creating
a ten-fold increase in the number of drug offenders incarcerated.
We have lost cherished legal traditions and endured many other
unintended consequences due to destructive anti-drug laws (prohibition).
It is illogical to spend tax dollars on
long imprisonment when other means have proven far more effective
in addressing the social problems of drug abuse and addiction.
State leaders across the U.S. are reforming rigid sentencing guidelines,
drug and parole policies. We urge federal leaders to do the same:
Provide prisoners with an incentive to maintain exemplary behavior
in prison and earn early release.
Earned, early release would foster incentives
toward cooperation, study, and learning skills that help create
a safer environment for staff and prisoners alike. Families could
be reunited earlier, with better prospects for prisoners' successful
reentry into society.
High costs of incarcerating drug offenders
would be dramatically reduced - with a 2008 budget of $5.4 billion,
the US Bureau of Prisons incarcerates over 108,000 drug law violators
(54% of federal prisoners), costing almost $3 billion annually.*
Inhumane prison overcrowding would be relieved
-- the federal system is 37% over capacity and growing more than
3% per year.
We, the undersigned, support November Coalition's
demand for relief from drug war injustice through a revival of
federal parole and/or a dramatic increase in good-time eligibility
of prisoners in federal custody.
* Statistics updated 10/4/08
from US OMB data