Drug Offender in Georgia Prisons 1. Drug Offenders in Georgia State Prisons. Bobbie Cates. Valdosta State University

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1 Drug Offender in Georgia Prisons 1 Drug Offenders in Georgia State Prisons Bobbie Cates Valdosta State University

2 Drug Offenders in Georgia Prisons 2 Abstract In this paper I am going to point on drug offenders in our Georgia prisons. I will discuss how they get sentenced, how they are treated, how they are release from our prison systems, along with rehabilitation while in prison and after prison. Also I will discuss how drug offenders in our prison system are charged with their drug offenses and discuss the meaning of schedules used to classify drug charges. I will also explain the cost it takes to house prisoners and how it affects the society we live in. I will also list the type of programs Georgia has to offer other than a prison sentence. I will give my perspective on how I feel about drug offenders in our prisons and give an insight into how our officials can make our society a better place besides throwing everyone in jail.

3 Drug Offenders in Georgia Prisons 3 Georgia law makes it illegal to purchase, possess, sell or manufacture any controlled substances. Drug offenders are sentenced based on their drug crime or crimes they have committed. These days Georgia annually spends half a billion incarcerating drug abusers. Officials are actually looking into putting drug offenders into rehab programs other than placing them in prison because of budgeting and overpopulation. Most rehab programs have essentially helped many drug abusers but however many drug offenders become criminal offenders therefore they ultimately end up incarcerated. Most first offenders never see jail time, but this is based on the severity of the drug crime committed and the schedule of drugs those offenders were charged with. According to council sixty percent of inmates are drug and property offenders. Most people believe the people entering Georgia prisons are murders, rapists, and robbers, however this is not the case. It s not productive to put a non-violent offender in prison when they might have a drug problem, not a criminal problem, or a mental health problem, not a criminal problem, said Kelly McCutchen, president of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation. This quote by Kelly McCutchen basically states putting drug offenders in GA prisons is a waste of time and money. Gov. Nathan Deal gave some options for improving costs and improving cost and safety which included expanding accountability courts. It was said that Gov. Deal would ask the General Assembly to spend $10 million for new accountability courts. These courts are drug, mental health, and veterans courts that intend to treat and offenders issues instead of choosing incarceration.

4 Drug Offenders in Georgia Prisons 4 So how do drug offenders get sentenced based on the drug crimes and offenses they have committed, each drug out there has a category based on if it s a narcotic, a prescription drug. When a drug offender is caught and charged with a drug related crime whatever drugs they possess they are charged based on its schedule it falls into. However just because a person caught with drug are not doing them does not mean it isn t illegal because Georgia law says it is. Many drug offenders are caught trafficking drugs, selling, actually doing them however each case is never the same when it comes to a drug offender the law as outlined sentencing based on each drug crime committed. For example a person trafficking narcotic drugs can receive a sentence of up to 25 years in prison and a fine of $1 million dollars, but on another note if the drug offender has committed the offense on a federal level sentencing can be even more severe. Most drug related crimes are found through a process called search and seizure, this process is basically where a law enforcement officer or official can search and seize any property within the laws statues. Sometimes however a search warrant must be obtained to search property of those under suspicion. Georgia Criminal Code states that the penalties for purchasing, possessing, manufacturing, delivering, distributing, selling, or possessing with the intent to distribute any controlled substance may be punishable by " imprisonment for not less than two years nor more than 15 years. Upon conviction of a second or subsequent offense, he shall be imprisoned for not less than five years nor more than 30 years." There are particular exceptions, however, and these penalties apply to Schedule I and Schedule II substances. (Criminaldefensepros.com)

5 Drug Offenders in Georgia Prisons 5 Today a lot of drug offenders never see jail or prison time because of the overpopulation of prisons. The severity of drug crimes are everywhere, everyday people are arrested and charged with drug crimes. So what happens to these people, a lot of them are placed in transitional centers, rehabilitations centers, some are incarcerated based upon the magnitude of their offenses. However do they change a lot do but however most will be repeat offenders, who will be out of the streets selling, trafficking, etc. But some do change but is incarceration the key to helping them these days officials are saying no and turning more drug offenders to probation, and rehabilitation programs. So how do those inside the prisons change, most do not a lot of them are still inside doing drugs or controlling the operations of their drug related crimes from inside the prison walls. A lot of inmates on work details bring the contraband into the prisons from the outside, but it s not just inmates you also have prison workers and such who bring it into the prisons. We see people in our society everyday who have come out of the GA prison system and went right back to doing what they were doing prior to prison. People do not realize the cost to house a prisoner and how much the state wastes on these offenders when they make up over 60% of the population within the system. On average it cost $51a day to house and care for a prisoner this is if they do not need medical assistance. Where on the outside having a drug offender on monitoring programs cost less than $5 a day overall taxpayers have to pay less. The Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform -- comprised of judges, lawmakers and other officials -- said Georgia s prison population will increase by 8 percent to almost 60,000 inmates by 2016 if current policies remain in place. That jump will require taxpayers to spend an additional $264 million for more prison beds over the next five years. (ajc.com)

6 Drug Offenders in Georgia Prisons 6 Does anything change a criminal if they are not willing to change, the answer is no. However are governors and state officials say that these new programs lower the cost for the state and ultimately for the citizens of Georgia. Although, many people may not agree with the aspect of not just throwing everyone into the prison system. If it has proven to be effective for other states like Texas, I think we should do the same. Like I stated above people will change if they want I am not saying put violent offenders into these programs. I think if they have had one to even two offenses for drug offenses send them to the programs the state has to offer most people out there doing drugs or even selling them are not all bad people they are just making some really bad choices and need to have guidance. By no means are they all going to stop and be better people but even if a quarter of them did while in these programs I would say they are effective programs to have. Georgia offers programs such as Motivation for Change, Matrix Program- Early Recovery Skills (ERS), Matrix Relapse Prevention, Aftercare (SAAS), RSAT, PSATC, Intensive Re-Entry Program, and Day Reporting centers. All these programs have different treatment methods and guidelines for treatment, along with transitional centers and different rehab programs drug offenders have the ability to change and stay out of the Georgia prison system. While these programs offer offenders a way to live on the outside and not be incarcerated a lot of them feel that way, but being in the system is much worse. Prisoners are in populations with violent criminals and most time the non- violent offenders end up getting owned and made to dothings inside these prisons that we see as almost impossible for someone to do to another person. That s why these programs for non-violent offenders are good because I believe no person who smoke marijuana one time and got arrested should be in prison with a murderer.

7 Drug Offenders in Georgia Prisons 7 Some offenders are the same, some are different, and however they all are selling, possessing, trafficking, or doing that same thing drugs. And all of these offenders should definitely see some kind of punishment, because drugs lead to more crimes some violent some not. But the main thing is that all these offenders need to be caught and made aware that doing this is not a way of life no matter your circumstances. If officials can keep drugs and drug related crimes off the streets where I live I am all for it. But do not just throw every drug offender in jail use the resources we have to teach and educate along with help and guide these offenders to where our prisons are not overpopulated and we are not wasting taxpayer s money.

8 Drug Offender in Georgia Prisons 8 References Substance Abuse Services. (2012). Retrieved March 15, 2012, Georgia annually spends half a billion dollars incarcerating drug abusers. (2011). Retrieved March 15, 2012, Georgia rethinks its prison stance. (2012). Retrieved March 15, 2012, Atlanta Drug Crime Attorney. (2012). Retrieved March 15, 2012, Georgia Considers Reforms to Reduce Prison Population, Costs. (2012). Retrieved March 15, 2012,

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