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College Republicans’ Panel Focuses on Treating Drug Criminals Rather Than Incarcerating Them

Penn College Republicans and Pennsylvania Young Republicans recently hosted a panel that discussed a variety of legislative reforms, including ways the criminal justice system could be improved. Panelists included former White House Counsel Jim Schultz, state Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (R-08), gubernatorial candidate and State Sen. Scott Wagner (R-PA) and Criminal Justice Task Force Director at the American Legislative Exchange Council Ronald Lampard.

During discussions about criminal justice reform, panelists paid special attention to drug-related crimes and the importance of reforming people and establishing re-entry pathways and rehabilitation programs for inmates.

Rep. Fitzpatrick noted that the practice has, for too long, been to criminalize “behavior that needs treatment, not incarceration,” and says immediate reform is necessary if the opioid crisis is truly to be resolved effectively.

Moving away from the classical War on Drugs

It was an interesting diversion for local Republicans from their national counterparts, who have been getting increasingly hawkish on drugs. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has encouraged courts to prosecute drug offenders, even in lower-level cases, to the fullest extent of the law. President Donald J. Trump recently said the death penalty should be an option in drug trafficking and high-intensity drug cases.

However, research indicates that tougher laws and sentences in drug crime cases do not lead to a decrease in overdose deaths, and they do not prevent people from becoming repeat offenders once they get out of prison.

To protect your constitutional rights when facing serious criminal charges, contact experienced Reading drug crime defense attorney David R. Eshelman.


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