Guest Commentary—Mass incarceration and the war on drugs

North Attleborough High School
North Attleboro - Plainville Rotary Club is seeking out this year's Rotary Club distinguished Service Awards Recipients

I am writing this letter as a part of my civics project. The prompt of the project is to find a problem in America and raise awareness for the issue. The issue I have chosen to try and raise awareness about is mass incarceration as a result of the war on drugs. I think there is a systemic problem with the level of punishment people in America are receiving for drug offenses.

The problem comes from the fact that there is a system set in place of punishment instead of rehabilitation. Almost half a million people are serving time in prisons across the United States for non-violent drug-related crimes on any given day. I think that the system should be reformed so that nonviolent drug offenders and drug users can get help instead of imprisonment.

A major issue I have with the current system of justice concerning drugs is the way that it affects the futures of those involved. The incarceration of people who are drug offenders hurts their chances of finding stable employment in the future. Not being able to find work increases their chances of being charged with another drug offense. If they are convicted it will result in an even longer prison sentence as a repeat offender. This is especially problematic when you consider many are incarcerated for merely possessing drugs.

Colin Monahan is a North Attleborough student and wrote this for a civics project