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Should Drug Dealers See Longer Prison Sentences?

Should Drug Dealers See Longer Prison Sentences?

barscuffsIt’s a longstanding debate: While many believe stricter laws and more serious sentences would help deter people from abusing drugs, others believe addicted individuals will simply return to destructive habits without proper treatment. No sentence can keep these individuals from facing an untreated cycle of addiction once they’ve served time behind bars.

Drug dealing, however, is a different story. Those who are not addicted to drugs but rather commit drug crimes solely for money may benefit from harsher sentences. New Jersey legislation has been drafted to target large-scale drug dealers who make a living by selling to addicted individuals.

The Consequences of Dealing

This legislative action is a direct result of the increasing drug overdoses in New Jersey, and more specifically, the number of drug overdose deaths in Ocean County. According to reports, the 2013 death toll in Ocean County reached 112, compared with 53 in 2012. In just the first few months of 2014, there have been nine fatal drug overdoses. There has been one fatal drug overdose in Atlantic County, where last year there were a total of 83 (Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office).

New Jerseyians who support the proposed legislation understand that treatment can be more effective than prison, but that drug dealing must still be addressed. “While treatment must play a larger role in addressing the drug problem, so must be convicting and sentencing to longer sentences for those large-scale drug traffickers who are at the center of it all,” said legislators.

Under the new legislation, heroin dealers would be subject to 10 years in prison without parole. Other dealers, including narcotic dealers, would face similar consequences. One part of the legislation would allow for individuals to be prosecuted according to the number of doses of drugs they posses, rather than just by the weight of the drug(s).

Drug Abusing vs. Drug Dealing

Supporters of the new legislation are careful to differentiate between drug dealers and drug addicts. While the new laws would lead to longer sentences for dealers, they would not increase time behind bars for addicts.

Addicted individuals need rehab and treatment above anything else; instead of pushing for longer drug abuse sentences, many states are now working to allow individuals to enter treatment, sometimes without facing any jail time at all.

In order to help someone take control of his or her life and stop the cycle of addiction, jail, addiction, jail… rehabilitation is needed to establish the tools for recovery and address the root causes of addiction. Drug rehab utilizes counseling, therapeutic services and life skills training to help free the mind and body from substances and the devastating underlying causes of addiction.

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