Everyone agrees that the antiquated drug laws are responsible for the high incarceration rates in this country and the disproportionately high number of African-American inmates in prison. Both party's presidential candidates are in accord about this. 46,000-plus federal inmates will be released because their sentences were reduced for exactly this reason.
But is that true?
Drug offenders make up only 19.5% of the prison population. Releasing all 300,000+ drug offenders would still leave our prison population larger than it was 30 years ago and larger than any other industrialized country. More, the percentage of African-American inmates would not change from 37%.
The only way to decrease prison numbers dramatically would be to decrease the frequency and length of incarceration for violent crime itself.
Is that what we want?