The Democrat-Gazette today reported some prosecutors' unhappiness with draft prison legislation because it would set the bar higher for longer sentences for people convicted on meth manufacturing and sales charges. Meth's a scourge, but the addiction that drives its use — and drives users to make and sell it to help support their own habits — is no more or less a pathology than any of the other crime-related drug habits. For some reason or other, though, it is the favorite target of lawmakers, to the point that buying over-the-counter cold medicine is difficult now because of the zeal to attack it. Foreign suppliers quickly stepped in with a better and more reliable source of the product than home cookers were providing when ready materials dried up.
Inevitably, the fight over holding down the prison population had to turn on the willingness of prosecutors and the public to focus less on expensive long-term punishment and more on community solutions, including rehab for drug users. It's not surprising, really, that this debate has now been joined.
The legislation is a work in progress, but I can share one draft of the 160-page bill for those who'd like to peruse the particulars.