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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Many Support Commuting Drug Sentences

Last year, a number of moves were made in government, on both sides of the aisle, to reform drug sentencing laws. The U.S. Sentencing Commission voted to reduce the base offense for possession charges, as well as a term reduction for low-level drug traffickers who are already incarcerated - allowing more than 46,000 drug offenders to be eligible for early release.

President Obama recently announced that he would be commuting the sentences of 22 drug offenders that were serving extremely long terms for nonviolent drug offenses. A number of those were serving life sentences. The Huffington Post conducted a survey to gauge how people felt about the president’s decision. The findings showed that more people were for it than against it, which may be indicative of how people view locking up others for drug offenses.

The HuffPost/YouGov survey found:
  • 46 percent of Americans say they approve of President Obama’s decision.
  • 23 percent of survey respondents disapproved.
  • 31 percent were undecided.
Perhaps the most interesting results of the survey was that 40 percent of respondents said they think prison sentences given for non-violent drug crimes are usually too harsh, and 55 percent of respondents did not think it should be possible for a person to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for repeated drug offenses.

About one-quarter of respondents said the length of sentences are about right, and only 14 percent said the sentences are too lenient. In the past two years, the number of people who believed that sentences were too lenient has dropped by 9 points, according to the Huffington Post.

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