Drugs and the Legal System

Prohibition leads to overcrowded prisons, overloaded courts, less enforcement against violent crimes, and corruption at every level of the legal system.

Criminalizing an activity that so much of the population participates in can only lead to overcrowded prisons. There are more marijuana users in the U.S. than there are Catholics. Even doubling or tripling the amount of prison space would not help imprison more than a slight fraction of drug users.

When prisons fill up, prisoners must be released. In many cases, violent criminals are let out before nonviolent drug offenders. Plea-bargaining, suspended sentences and early releases for violent criminals are all a direct result of increased drug law enforcement.

Similarly, courts are burdened with drug cases. To speed up the process, courts are forced to deal lightly with violent criminals, through such means as plea-bargaining.

Police must allocate their limited resources among various law enforcement efforts. Seizure laws and political pressure ensure that drug enforcement receives funding at the expense of efforts to stop violent crime.

The amount of money involved in the drug trade leads to corruption at all levels: police, lawyers, judges, politicians. Police lie to make drug arrests because actual evidence is hard to come by when there is no victim to file a complaint.

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