Pubdate: Thu, 26 May 2011
Source: Sacramento Bee (CA)
Copyright: 2011 The Sacramento Bee
Author: Dale Gieringer


Re "State must slash prison population" (Page A1, May 24): With 
California under court order to reduce the prison population by 
33,000 prisoners, it is noteworthy that the state incarcerates 25,000 
prisoners for nonviolent drug offenses.

Prison overcrowding can thus be largely attributed to the drug laws.

Fortunately, there are signs that the high tide of drug prohibition 
may be waning. Drug offenders have declined from 28 percent to 15 
percent of all inmates since California voters approved Proposition 
36, which mandated treatment instead of prison for minor possession offenders.

A bill to reduce the number of marijuana prisoners, Assembly Bill 
1017 by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, would reduce cultivation penalties 
from a mandatory felony to a "wobbler," or alternate misdemeanor.

Let us hope that our legislators have the wisdom to eliminate felony 
penalties for inherently nonviolent drug offenses.

Dale Gieringer, director, California NORML, San Francisco
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