Here's another potentially significant, long-term benefit of the 2007-2009 recession and the "rise of arithmetic as a player in the drama
" at the state level as states face huge budget deficits: it's causing states to rethink draconian drug laws, and opt for lower-cost treatment options instead of long, higher-cost jail sentences for the "victimless crime" of drug possession. Even if the main motivation is to save money, it's still a big step in the right direction of more sensible, humane and sane drug policy (see charts above).
"A growing number of states are renouncing some of the long prison sentences that have been a hallmark of the war on drugs and instead focusing on treatment, which once-skeptical lawmakers now say is proven to be less expensive and more effective.
Kentucky on Thursday became the latest to make the shift when Gov. Steve Beshear signed into law a measure increasing spending on rehabilitation programs and intensive drug testing. The law also reduces penalties for many drug offenses and may allow some traffickers and users of smaller amounts of drugs to avoid prison.
Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania are among those that have pending bills to reduce penalties for drug offenders, in some cases by directing defendants into treatment programs. Similar laws have taken effect in South Carolina, Colorado and New York in recent years. States have maintained stiff penalties for more-serious drug crimes.
Although some states started rethinking drug punishment before the recession, many more states have come on board in the past two years."