The Massachusetts Bar Association has called for the overhaul and reexamination of law enforcement efforts to combat drug use and the penalties nonviolent drug users face under current laws, the Boston Globe reports. The group says its recommendations could save the state $25 million annually through reduced minimum sentencing and the parole of nonviolent drug offenders. “What appears to the task force as obsolete in state drug policy is the idea of using the criminal justice system to control what people consume,'' the association says.
The report points to four areas of widespread failure: an increase in arrests without the diminished use of illegal drugs, a disparate impact of drug laws on minority groups, economic effects for offenders looking for work with a criminal record, and high rates of recidivism. The report calls for reformulation of mandatory minimum sentences linked to drug crimes in school zones, diversion programs for nonviolent offenders with drug addiction, and more opportunities for work-release, parole, and “good conduct'' credit.