The Perfect vs the Good: Criminal Justice Reform and the Drug War

Promoting individual liberty means understanding that individuals have the right to ingest (or not) whatever substance they wish, or use (or refrain from using) whatever products they want so long as they hurt no other people or their property. This is a fundamental requirement of free people in a free society. It follows then that the entirety of the state’s drug war and all of its supposed and invented crimes are immoral and violations of liberty – and made all the worse from the associate induced criminality that surrounds black markets and illicit commerce. The non-violent people that have been impacted by this and imprisoned in the course of the drug war should be released as soon as possible, and every effort made to expunge their records going forward.

However, in the meantime while we call for this we recognize that the justice system moves slowly, and so for those who are still in the system we support efforts by the state to move to any and all alternatives to prison for non-violent “offenders”. This includes diverting prisoners to treatment opportunities, as well as releasing individuals to the care of community programs and other programs that help to actually rehabilitate. In all cases, too, choice should be given to inmates as to whether they would like to engage with the alternative, or stay in traditional confinement.

In the course of criminal justice, the state should be focused on “real crime” – crimes against property and people, that violate trust and civil peace. And in all cases, the focus of the state should be on restitution and rehabilitation – with imprisonment as a *last* resort for those individuals ultimately too dangerous to civil society that they need to be confined. We should never forget, though, that the purpose of criminal justice is to repair what has been damaged, to make whole what was broken, and to provide true justice to those who have been hurt, and not merely to hurt those who have offended.

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