I watched part of the Democratic Debate tonight (July 31, 2019), and took note when Joe Biden told the American people that we need to treat drug addicts instead of locking them up like criminals. The sound bite was interesting not because it was an innovative idea, but because it is an issue that I have been speaking out about for years. It is such an obvious move, and yet, here we are in 2019, and our criminal justice system still hasn’t caught on.
In fact, this video I created (click here) is already several years old. Although it is the low-quality work of a law student, it sheds an interesting light on the issue. Aptly named “A New Approach: Non-Violent Drug Offenders in Massachusetts,” I discussed the idea that drug addicts caught up in the criminal justice system need treatment instead of prison. Already, important people had begun to consider potential solutions. Shout out to (then-State Rep) Mayor Marty Walsh & then State Senator Steven Tolman for talking about the issue head-on.
There has been movement, but it has been far too slow. Incarceration tears apart families and communities, and exacerbates the problem. Change needs to come fast, before more lives are lost to this scourge. Decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana was a small start. And there are drug courts around the state that address some of these issues. However, much more needs to be done. We should look to the Gloucester Police Department for an example of the innovation that is possible when common-sense solution trumps the status quo. Not willing to sit around and wait while our young people are dying, Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello courageously created the first drug amnesty program run by a police department a few years back. Now instead of arresting drug users, the Gloucester Police facilitate treatment for addicts. This is a great start. But much more needs to be done. Until then, you need an attorney who understands and can navigate the system.
I have felt very strongly about this issue since I was a teenager, seeing friends’ and peers’ lives ruined by criminal records, based solely on non-violent drug offenses. This is a major reason I became a criminal defense attorney. Until the criminal justice system is able to comprehensively address drug addiction, I will continue to focus my passion on fighting to keep my clients out of jail. Thankfully, I’ve been able to help countless clients to avoid jail. But it often takes a tremendous amount of legwork to convince the prosecutors and judges that people suffering from drug addiction need a chance to get clean, rather than punished with jail for nonviolent drug offenses.
If you or a loved one is charged with a drug related crime in Massachusetts, call me today at (781) 797-0555 for a free consultation.