Less Time for Stealers Than Snorters

Via Grits for Breakfast:

You're a lot more likely to wind up in a federal prison if you're arrested on a drug charge, according to the US Sentencing Commission, than you are for engaging in larceny, fraud, or white collar crime. According to a new report by the USSC titled "Alternative Sentencing in the Federal Criminal Justice System" (pdf), a whopping 92% of drug convictions resulted in a prison sentence, compared to 39% of convictions for larceny, 60% of convictions for fraud, and just 57% of convictions for white collar crime.

There should be more alternative sentences for everyone, whether convicted of theft or drugs, since by themselves, both are non-violent crimes. (If violence is involved, jail is always available as an option.) The point is, as Law Prof Berman of Sentencing Law and Policy notes, there's hope in the Sentencing Commission's final paragraph:

Effective alternative sanctions are important options for federal, state, and local criminal justice systems. For the appropriate offenders, alternatives to incarceration can provide a substitute for costly incarceration. Ideally, alternatives also provide those offenders opportunities by diverting them from prison (or reducing time spent in prison) and into programs providing the life skills and treatment necessary to become law-abiding and productive members of society.

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