According to Eugene DePasquale, the auditor general for Pennsylvania, spent by Pennsylvania on incarcerating people for the possession of cannabis would just be squandering it. DePasquale suggested to the Legislature earlier this month to allow a bill that would legalize medical cannabis. In his plea, he spoke about how both care for patients that need to suffer as well as concerns about the waste of money going into keeping non-violent drug offenders in prison.
“I think it’s the right thing to do for people,” DePasquale, who used to represent York in the state House and was once the city’s economic development director, stated. “Whether it’s $2 or $2.5 million, it is a waste of money, in my opinion, to arrest people for this.”
According to DePasquale, at the moment, the state Department of Corrections has approximately $2.5 million going to ninety-seven people put into jail for nonviolent cannabis offenses. Those ninety-seven people are distributed in sixty-six jails throughout the county, which hold a total of 35,439 criminals as of the end of 2015, according to the Department of Corrections. In total, that means that $25,700 is being spent per inmate. However, Mary Sabol, warden of York County Prison, says that she cannot determine how many of these offenders are in York.
“I’m sure it’s a very small number,” Sabol said.
According to Shawn Hawes, public information officer for the Philadelphia Prison System, there are no marijuana offenders in Philadelphia’s jails. In October 2014, Philadelphia decriminalized cannabis, making thirty grams or less punishable by a mere citation and fine. Treatment programs, as well as probation, are a much better way to deal with non-violent cannabis offenders, Wes Kahley, York City Police Chief, said.
“We need to focus on putting violent criminals in jail, not nonviolent offenders,” he finished.
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