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Could a different approach in drug crimes lead to fewer arrests?

Drug crimes affect communities throughout the nation. Accordingly, reducing the occurrence of those crimes is important to law enforcement agencies throughout the nation. This results in many arrests, charges and in some cases convictions. While this approach may get individuals off of the streets for a period of time, in the long term it does not seem to have a positive effect.

One Virginia police chief who is on the Governor’s Task Force on Prescription Drug and Heroin Abuse, recently indicated that he is not pleased with the way in which that approach has worked. Specifically he cites the fact that years after an individual goes through the system, children and grandchildren of those individuals are often arrested for similar drug crimes.

The result of this approach has led to several things including increased health care costs due to long-term-care treatments and emergency treatment. It has also led to additional burdens being placed on the law enforcement community.

Approaches that the task force believes could have an impact on the issue include supporting a study resolution and five bills. Several of the bills focus on keeping drugs out of the hands of those who are dependent on them and providing access to a specific drug designed to reverse a heroin overdose. In addition, the task force supports educating people about the laws that do change so they know how it is appropriate to react.

Changes such as these could have a bearing on how many people are arrested for a drug offense. Whether the bills will become law is not clear. We will provide information in the matters as they become available.

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