ST. GEORGE – According to a report released by the FBI in September, 1.6 million individuals were arrested on drug-related offenses in 2009. That is an arrest every 19 seconds.
The same report indicated that 82 percent of the drug arrests were for drug possession – not distribution or violent crime, but possession alone.
Police time and taxpayer money is spent ushering the alleged offenders through the criminal justice system. Jails are filled to capacity and court calendars fill up with dates for initial appearances and eventual trials. If convicted, the offenders then serve prison sentences that could be multiple months to multiple years.
The U.S. Department of Justice recorded that the average annual cost of incarceration for a federal inmate in 2009 was $25,251. The average cost for the inmate of a community correctional center was $24,758.
If each of the 1.6 million individuals arrested for drug related offenses in 2009 served one year in a community correctional center, the estimated cost to taxpayers would be $39.6 billion for that year.
Members of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition – LEAP – find these statistics to be unacceptable, and say the 40-year-long War on Drugs is a failure. The legalization and regulation of drugs, LEAP members claim, would solve many of the problems supported by what they see as a failed policy.
One Man’s Story
“There’s got to be a better way,” said David Doddridge, a retired detective of the Los Angeles Police Department.