Marijuana Busts: A booming business for prisons

All around the nation people are talking about weed.

Colorado and Washington legalized the drug for recreational purposes last year, and now multiple states are considering making the same move, with unprecedented decriminalization efforts across the country.

Could this fight be brought to Louisiana? Could the state known for booze add buzz to its portfolio? Probably not. And here’s why.

Arresting young black people is a big business for Louisiana’s prisons, which are now more than 80 percent private.  The South has some of the largest privately-run prisons in the country – Texas, Georgia and Mississippi have the five largest privately-run facilities in the country.

These prisons are filled with drug offenders – 56 percent of all persons serving time in Louisiana prisons have been convicted of drug-related offenses, including possession and distribution of marijuana.

The federal government increased the budget 3.6% for the 2014 fiscal year – allocating more than $27 billion to prisons across the country.  The only good news coming out of the increase is that adjustments were made largely to gun safety enforcement (see below).

So why would a multi-billion dollar industry want to drop its prison population by half? Isn’t it in the best interest of the general public if we not lock up young (under 30) mostly black non-violent offenders for carrying small amounts of marijuana? Wouldn’t it be even better if instead the state MADE billions in tax revenue from the sale/distribution of legal marijuana?

It would? Well, great! Write your congressperson and tell them to legalize marijuana now. No more prohibition. No more dark age.

According to the Department of Justice website:

Supports the Administration’s plans to reduce gun violence by investing $395 million, including $173 million in federal program investments and a total of $222 million in grant programs. The
Budget requests $100 million to double the existing capacity of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) in anticipation of a universal
background check requirement and $73 million for additional Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) investigative and regulatory capabilities, as well as improvements in ATF’s tracing and ballistics systems. The $222 million for grant programs will assist states in making more records available in the NICS system ($50 million for NCHIP), improve school safety ($150 million for COPS) and support officer safety programs, including a joint Office of Justice Programs (OJP)/FBI training for active
shooter situations ($15 million in Byrne JAG for VALOR programs), provide for state and local governments to update NICS data with criminal history and mental health information ($5 million).

 

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