Law enforcement agencies all across the nation are locking people up for drug possession every 25 seconds, a rate greater than arrests for all violent crime, according to the latest report from Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union.
The report shows that somewhere around 137,000 people per day are confined to a jail cell because they were caught in possession of illegal drugs – mostly marijuana. Since many of these people cannot afford bail, they are forced to reside inside a county jail until their appointed court date – all for an offense that did not bring about any harm to another human being.
Frustratingly, police forces all over the country are spending the majority of any given day targeting drug offenders.
"Around the country, police make more arrests for drug possession than for any other crime," the report states. "More than one of every nine arrests by state law enforcement is for drug possession, amounting to more than 1.25 million arrests each year."
The ACLU and HRW finds, despite marijuana legalization in a number of states, police are still arresting more people for pot than for violent offenses.
Last month, the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report revealed that more than 600,000 people were arrested in 2015 for marijuana, most of which was for minor possession.
In an effort to combat this injustice, the report calls for the decriminalization of all illegal drugs. The ACLU and HRW said that the time has come to start treating addiction as a public health issue rather than one that can be handled through the criminal justice system.
“It is time for the US to rethink its approach to drug use,” the report concludes.
Interestingly, Portugal decriminalized all illegal drugs back in 2001. Since then, the country has not experienced any increase in drug use, and more people are seeking treatment for addiction problems. In addition, the nation has seen fewer overdose deaths and a much welcomed decrease in AIDS cases.