All Articles Tagged "drug laws"
Until recently in Chicago’s Cook County, there wasn’t much of a punishment for getting caught with a small amount of marijuana. Most offenders got away with a ticket that officers didn’t enforce. But the Chicago Sun-Times reports that this time around, “the ticket writing option is going to enforced.”
The Cook County Board approved an ordinance two years ago that decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana in unincorporated areas. When the Sun-Times reported that no tickets had been written, the sheriff’s officials decided it was time to tweak the rule.
After officers settled a disparity in how to handle persons caught with 10 or less grams inside of their jurisdiction compared to those outside of their jurisdiction, they reached a conclusion that will ensure that their enforcement is equal. Now Cook County commissioners have amended the ordinance to areas where Cook Country officers are the primary law enforcement, including suburban Ford Heights. Residents in these areas are now subject to ticketing as well as an enforcement of those tickets handed out.
Toni Preckwinkle, the county’s Board President, has been pushing to stop low-level drug arrests for drug possession offenses. She hopes that drug abuse can be treated as a public health issue and praises the move made by Cook County officials. Halting the arrest of low level drug offenders also saves counties money, as it costs to keep detainees in jail for up to 21 days only to see the charges dropped.
Cook County is not alone in their move to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Philadelphia has also decriminalized the offense. Those arrested for possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana could face a fine, but no criminal charges.
Across the country there has been an increase in marijuana use. According to USA Today, marijuana has about 17.4 million regular users and the number is steadily growing. Its usage increase has been attributed by some to the growing number of states who have approved it for medical use.
(Los Angeles Times) — About 12,000 federal prisoners nationwide may soon be going home, some as much as three years early, under a U.S. Sentencing Commission decision to allow retroactive reductions in prison terms for inmates convicted of crack cocaine offenses. The commission voted unanimously Thursday to bring “unfairly long sentences” for crack offenders, mostly African Americans, more in line with the shorter terms given to powder cocaine offenders, often white and sometimes affluent. Patti B. Saris, the panel’s chairwoman, said that when Congress passed the Fair Sentencing Act last year, it “recognized the fundamental unfairness of federal cocaine sentencing policy,” and the commission sought to bridge the disparity between the two prison sentences.
(Wall Street Journal) — The Fair Sentencing Act passed this summer knocked down the requirement of long prison sentences for possession of crack cocaine, but a quirk in how the law was written has resulted in some defendants being sentenced under the old rules—and the situation could continue for years. Lawmakers who backed the change, with the support of the attorney general and federal sentencing officials, aren’t pleased with the outcome. They said the new guidelines rectified an injustice born during the drug wars of the 1980s. Instead, the snafu has created a parallel universe where defendants face different rules for the same crimes—sometimes in front of the same judge—because their offenses were committed at different times.