What’s the best way to handle heroin addiction? This is a question that governments, rehabs and anti-drug advocates have all struggled with. Heroin is one of the most addictive drugs in the world, and it’s one that destroys more lives than many other illegal substances. One method that lawmakers have thought up to fight heroin addiction is to try to punish the people that use the drug, along with those that sell it.
Part of this strategy might make sense, but part of it definitely doesn’t. Putting heroin users in jail won’t accomplish much. Sitting behind bars does not magically make addiction go away, first of all. The second problem with this approach is that many prisons are very bad at keeping drugs out. Prison staffs will accept bribes to smuggle drugs in, and these drugs are used to keep addictions going strong.
If we think that just putting heroin users behind bars is going to handle anything, we’re wrong. What these prisoners need is effective drug rehabilitation. When effective rehabilitation is available and provided for all addicts, we will be able to see addiction rates actually start to drop for good.
Drug producers and drug sellers are a completely different matter. Tens of thousands of people overdose on heroin every year, and this wouldn’t be possible without the men and women that are making these drugs and selling them on street corners all over the country. When anyone overdoses or dies due to these drugs, the people that sold the drugs are directly responsible for the outcome.
Louisiana Takes a Stand
Louisiana (and New Orleans in particular) have some of the highest crime rates in the country. A large part of this is due to the rampant drug use in the state. Drug use is proven to breed violence and crime, partially because drug users need to come up with money to pay for expensive drugs, and stealing seems like the best way to do it. Louisiana legislators have long sought ways to lower both the drug use rates and crime rates in the state, so they have looked at raising the penalties for drug sellers.
The Louisiana State Senate recently passed a law that would increase the potential sentences for people that are convicted of selling heroin. In the past, the maximum penalty for selling heroin was fifty years, but the new law raises the maximum sentence to ninety-nine years. This means that judges have the discretion to keep dangerous drug sellers in prison longer if it is deemed that they are a danger to society. This law doesn’t mean that courts have to extend sentences, but they have the power to do so if it seems like the best option.
The Outcomes of the Law
Hopefully, the outcome of this law will be two-fold. First, prison sentences are often dramatically reduced. A drug seller’s sentence can be reduced to the point that he is back out on the street selling drugs again very soon after appearing in court. The new law could mean that these criminals will stay off the streets (and away from our communities) for a longer period of time. The second potential effect is that it could deter potential drug sellers from pushing drugs if they know it could mean almost a hundred years in jail.
In the end, getting addicts into rehab is the best option to handle addiction, but more jail time might be a solution for the criminals that keep this poison flooding onto our streets.
Nola.com: Bill increasing heroin penalties to 99 years passes Louisiana Senate committee – Snapshot http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2014/04/bill_increasing_heroin_penalti.html