Strong spotlight on Indiana drug task force, recommendations

Lock them up.

And, essentially, throw away the key.

That has long been the favored response of many anti-drug hardliners in Indiana and nationally when the subject of illicit drug use, possession and sales has come up in past years.

And, indeed, it has been the go-to strategy for many legislators and prosecutors who have strongly advocated in favor of stringent criminal law policies borne of the so-called War on Crime and War on Drugs.

The outcomes in legions of drug cases across the country have soured even the most strident proponents of tough sentencing policies in drug cases, though, especially in light of state and federal lockups crammed beyond the breaking point with first-time and nonviolent drug offenders.

As noted in many news reports over the past couple years, reform tailwinds are clearly in evidence.

A recent Indianapolis Star article bears that out, with the paper noting the “sweeping recommendations” recently offered up by a state drug task force. That group was called into action last year by Gov. Mike Pence in response to a clearly perceived and widespread drug abuse problem in the state.

Clearly, task force members envision more than lengthy prison terms for many drug offenders. The Star points out that a prominent emphasis in reform recommendations is “more treatment options to the incarcerated,” including nonprison-situated housing for offenders, with professional medical staff onsite to provide counseling and treatment; a ratcheted-up treatment program in health centers that is focused upon the careful dispensing of medications to wean individuals from their addictions; and even a special high school for addicted juveniles.

Sentencing outcomes in Indiana drug cases can be highly variable. A knowledgeable and aggressive criminal defense attorney can help drug defendants push for alternatives to incarceration where possible, recommending treatment-based optionsthat truly promote the interests of both an offender and the larger community.