There's a seemingly never-ending debate about the War on Drugs in the United States. Are the sentences too harsh, keeping the jails full? Are the sentences too lenient, allowing drug crimes to continue? It often feels like there are more questions than answers.
One study, though, found that many Americans agreed on one point: They felt that sentences for non-violent drug offenses tended to carry more weight than they should.
In the study, a full 40 percent claimed sentences are harsher than needed. That was the largest response group. About 25 percent of people said they thought the current sentences were good, and a mere 14 percent thought sentences should be more strict than they are right now.
When asked about life in prison, only 25 percent felt that the court should be allowed to hand out such a long sentence. That was taking into account that the individual would never be given a shot at parole, and it was also assuming the person had multiple drug possession charges. However, more than 50 percent of people said that was too steep of a price to pay. The remainder could not decide.
To see how people felt about drug sentences in a real-life setting, rather than when considering them hypothetically, they were asked what they thought when, in 2015, then-President Barack Obama decided that he would allow 22 people to have commuted sentences. They were all non-violent criminals. While 23 percent of people said they were against President Obama's decision, twice that many -- 46 percent -- approved of it.
While this study suggests that most Americans think drug sentences should be more lenient, it's still critical for those facing charges to know what laws are on the books right now, what potential sentences they could be facing, and what legal defense options they have.
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