Free people incarcerated for marijuana crimes in states where it is now legal

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As of 2013, 2,220,300 adults were incarcerated in the United States, this is approximately 0.91% of the US resident population. The prison population of the US has experienced a surge in its prison population, quadrupling since 1980, partially as a result of mandatory sentencing that came about during the "War on Drugs." Perhaps the single greatest force behind the growth of the prison population has been the national "War on Drugs." In 2016, about 200,000, under 16%, of the 1.3 million people in state jails, were serving time for drug offenses. Mainly due to the "War on Drugs", the number of incarcerated drug offenders has increased twelvefold since 1980. In 2010, 52% of all drug arrests were for marijuana. In that same year, there was a marijuana arrest almost every 37 seconds. Penalties for drug crimes among American youth almost always involve permanent or semi-permanent removal from opportunities for education, strip them of voting rights, and later involve creation of criminal records which make employment more difficult. For the people who have been charged with marijuana crimes they suffer difficulties in life whether it be behind or outside bars. In recent years, states of decriminalized and some have even legalized marijuana possession. While the people in these specific states can possess marijuana in limits; there are people in those same states who have been charged with marijuana possession before the drug was legalized or decriminalized. For example: say someone in Massachusetts was arrested for having 0.5 grams of marijuana on them in 2015 (this would be legal now), they were sentenced to a short period in jail and given a felony. This person would not be able to do many things a person doing the same thing in 2017 could do such as voting, or would not have an equal opportunity to their peers of getting certain jobs. Some people are even still in jail for crimes they committed that are now legal. While the act that they committed might have been illegal, it is unjust that they should still suffer from it when that same act was later deemed legal by the same government.


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