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Pennsylvania’s new approach to drug sentencing

Across the United States, penalties for drug crimes, from drug use to selling and distributing, are slowly but surely being reformed. Much of the time, inspiration on drug penalties can come from European countries. Portugal is one good example. Portugal took the decision in the early 2000's to decriminalize drug use, reinvesting the money saved from jail maintenance into drug rehabilitation programs.

Pennsylvania's previous drug laws were criticized by Director of Research at the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. He said that the previous punishment system was not effective enough to prevent crimes because it was not adequately consistent to act as a deterrent.

What is the new approach for crimes?

A new Pennsylvania framework focuses on "swift and certain" punishment rather than a possible punishment that may occur months down the line. It is drawn out with the intention to provide citizens with clear consequences if they break the law, with the hope that many will be deterred because of their knowledge of the consequences of their actions.

What does this mean for drug crimes?

It means that those on probation for drug crimes will be subject to very clear consequences when it comes to drug use and honesty. They will be subject to drug tests several times a week, and will get an immediate two days in jail if admitting to drug use, or an immediate five days in jail if they test positive after denying drug use.

It is important to understand the consequences of drug crimes, especially if you have been accused of a drug-related crime in Pennsylvania.

Source: The Inquirer, "Pennsylvania offers a new 'smart on crime' approach. But does it actually work?," accessed Jan. 26, 2018

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