The nationwide poll conducted by the PEW Research Center suggests nearly two-thirds of Americans support treatment over imprisonment, and those who espouse policy changes are calling for more comprehensive legislation. Currently, there are four path-breaking U.S. policies that may soon change the landscape of our approach towards drug abuse, public safety and imprisonment.
The Decriminalization of Addiction
The best examples of decriminalization of addiction are the changes of state-level marijuana laws that happened recently. However, decriminalization is also taking shape in nationwide policies and practices that call for treatment rather than imprisonment. Many attorneys across the US now openly support the belief that addiction treatment is preferable to lengthy jail sentences.
National Drug Control Strategy
Obama administration’s 2014 National Drug Control Strategy marks a break from the traditional drug policy, which is also impacting other state-level policies. Many policy changes introduced by the 2014 National Drug Control Strategy have actually received support from all quarters.
Smarter Sentencing Act of 2015
Approximately, 50 percent of the prisoners living in the U.S. prisons are drug violators; nearly half of them carry the mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years. The Smarter Sentencing Act of 2015 asks for more synoptic sentencing, while cutting down the many federally mandated sentencing by nearly a half, and also for returning discretion back to judges. The U.S. Senate is holding debates over the Smarter Sentencing Act, but the bill does have all-round support.
New State Naloxone Policies
Naloxone is a drug that is easy to administer and reverses side effects from opioid overdose. Many states have started equipping first responders and law enforcement with Naloxone for the treatment of overdose cases. States have begun introducing policies to make Naloxone prescriptions easier to obtain and providing immunity from criminal liability to persons who administer Naloxone to an overdose victim.
The death of famous actor/comedian Robin Williams on August 11, 2014 shocked the world, as authorities initially called it an “apparent suicide.” Williams was pronounced dead shortly after he was found hanging from a belt in his home.
Despite being one of the most successful Hollywood celebrities of all time, he had suffered from depression that he apparently could not control. His problems included alcohol, drug addiction, financial disillusionment, two divorces, inability to sell his multi-million dollar mansion and a failed television show (The Crazy Ones) that had recently been canceled by CBS. At the time of death Williams was 63 years old.
While the actor’s legacy will certainly be set in stone by numerous TV shows, blockbuster films, and accolades. Sadly though, he will now also be remembered for taking his own life or at least allowing it to unravel in his final years. Since no suicide note was found in his Tiburon, California home, the world may never learn exactly all the reasons why his life came to an end, other than the cause of death has been reported as asphyxia (choking). He also had minor cuts on his wrist and a pocket knife was found in the room. A representative of Williams confirmed to the press that the actor was “battling severe depression.”
A month prior to his death, Williams had visited a rehab treatment center in Minnesota. Williams reportedly had managed to avoid alcohol and cocaine for twenty years following the death of his actor/comedian friend John Belushi, who died of a drug overdose in 1982. While Williams claimed he never started using cocaine again, he did tell Good Morning America in 2006 that he had returned to drinking alcohol. As sad as his death was, an important lesson must not be ignored about how his life ended: that suicide is unnecessarily a permanent solution to a temporary problem.