No serious person disputes the fact that America’s prisons and jails are bursting at the seams. Compared to other civilized countries, the rate of incarceration is alarming, and shows no signs of declining or even flattening out. A disturbing percentage of those in custody are serving time or awaiting trial for drug-related offenses.
Guilt By Association
Penalties for possession of drug paraphernalia have been ramped up as part of law enforcement’s struggle to stem the tide of methamphetamine use in America. Those who smoke methamphetamine are nowhere near as finicky as smokers of marijuana. “Tweakers” will use almost any hollow object as a meth pipe. Such a widening of the criteria net has naturally led to an increased catch.
The Latest Celebrity Mug Shot
The two-tier system that has always defined the American justice system was on full display last week as talk-show host Montel Williams – a brave medical-marijuana advocate – was cited for possession of a pot pipe at General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee last week. Williams, who has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, paid a fine of $484 and was released by the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office to continue his travels.
Most Americans still face stiff penalties, including jail time, for having and using bongs and pipes. Until the authorities, at all levels, make the critical turn from punishment to treatment for drug offenders, people remain at risk of losing their liberty for something they might have forgotten was in their coat pockets.