New York State Decriminalizes Recreational Marijuana Use
New York state this week decriminalized recreational marijuana use, Reuters reports. Possession of small amounts of marijuana will be punished with fines instead of jail time.
A new survey finds 46 percent of Americans say they approve of President Obama’s decision to free 22 prisoners serving long prison terms for non-violent drug offenses.
The Huffington Post reports 23 percent of survey respondents said they disapproved, while 31 percent were undecided.
The HuffPost/YouGov survey found 40 percent of respondents said they think prison sentences given for non-violent drug crimes are usually too harsh, while 14 percent said the sentences are usually too lenient. About one-quarter said the sentences are about right.
When asked whether they thought it should be possible for a person to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for repeated convictions for drug possession, 55 percent of respondents said no, while 25 percent said yes and 21 percent were not sure.
The movement toward drug sentencing reform has gained bipartisan support.
In April 2014, the U.S. Sentencing Commission voted to reduce the base offense for criminals caught with various amounts of drugs. Last June, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the new sentencing guidelines will make the federal prison system more fair to minorities, and will reduce taxpayer costs.
In July, the commission voted to reduce terms for low-level drug traffickers who are already incarcerated. The vote would allow more than 46,000 drug offenders to be eligible for early release from prison.