Attorney General Reveals Drug-Crime Reform Resembling New Jersey Law

In 2012, the governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, signed a new drug-reform bill into action for drug-offenders. This new legislation requires low-level drug offenders to spend time getting treatment instead of paying for their crimes in prison. In order for drug offenders to be eligible for the state's drug court program, they must have a drug addiction, be open to treatment and be deemed as a good candidate for this type of treatment, says NJ.com.

Nationwide drug-crime reform mirrors current New Jersey legislation

Recently, the U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, introduced a plan designed to minimize overcrowding in the nation's prisons by cutting back the sentences for low-level drug offenders. This new plan mimics elements of New Jersey's recent legislation for drug offenders and also resembles other efforts made by states throughout the country in the past few years, according to NJ.com. Holder's new plan:

  • Is meant to reduce the number of drug-offenders in federal prisons, which are currently operating at 40 percent over capacity
  • Does not extend to crimes committed on state or local levels
  • Is designed to move away from the idea that the best way to treat crime is by locking people up for as long as possible

According to NJ.com, the federal government's war on drugs that began in the 1980s has caused populations in the nation's prisons to skyrocket by approximately 800 percent and has cost the federal government over $80 billion since 2010. These effects are due to required minimum prison sentences for drug offenders that limit a judge's ability to minimize the terms of the sentence based on circumstances.

Opposition to new drug-crime reform

Although the goal of this new drug-crime reform is to reduce the number of inmates in the nation's prisons and cut costs, certain government officials oppose it. Many believe that this new plan will make individuals less willing to confess to their crimes and will cause the government to be blind to important information, says the Chicago Sun-Times.

Other concerns have arisen about what role this new policy will play in drug investigations. For example, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, up until now, selling more than one gram of heroin was a crime subject to a minimum of ten years in federal prison and prosecutors were able to request this sentence to be doubled if the possessor had a prior criminal background with drugs. However, those without a drug background that cooperated with investigators were able to avoid this minimum sentence. Those without prior drug history were usually unimportant members of a drug operation, like couriers, that didn't pose a threat to others and could aid in discovering who was at the head of the operation. With this new policy, officials fear that vital information may not be obtained in drug operation cases.

Despite new legislation in New Jersey and proposed policies by the federal government, drug crimes are still a serious offense. If you are under investigation for drug crimes, seek legal counsel from an attorney as soon as possible to protect your legal rights.

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