In a country full of overflowing prisons, this question has fueled many debates on the “drug war” in recent years. Prison incarceration has remained the standard for how courts and judges respond to drug charges. Because Oklahoma has the second-highest incarceration rate in America, more and more residents are now questioning this method of penalization.
As of 2014, more than 50 percent of the nation’s prison inmates landed behind bars because of drug offense convictions. Many of these convictions were for minor marijuana possession offenses and did not involve violence. This means that roughly half of the nation’s prisoners are nonviolent offenders. With prisons dangerously overpopulated, lawmakers are being asked to put some serious effort into finding a different approach.
In Oklahoma, the current rate of incarceration for nonviolent crimes like drug offenses stands at 45 percent for males and 62 for females. Further, courts in the state typically hand down sentences for such crimes that run 80 percent longer than the average across the nation. With these facts in mind, it is easy to see how imprisoning nonviolent drug offenders clogs the state’s prison system.
Until state and federal lawmakers find a satisfactory penalization alternative for those convicted on drug charges, prisons will likely remain overcrowded, putting both guards and prisoners in danger. In the meantime, those facing nonviolent drug charges in Oklahoma need immediate help to remain out of jail and away from prison violence.
It is beneficial to talk with a lawyer about your case if you have been arrested for a drug offense. Together, you can build a solid criminal defense, or pursue drug diversion programs as an alternative to prison.