We need to imprison people for fewer crimes and for less time
About half our prison inmates are drug dealers: were the purchase and sale of illegal drugs decriminalized, the prison population would plummet, and as a result prison conditions would improve dramatically. Oddly [Robert A.] Ferguson does not advocate decriminalization but merely amnesty for those drug offenders "who conquer their addiction in prison." There are also other candidates for decriminalization, such as prostitution and copyright infringement (which should be just a civil offense); and it is time that the age of consent were reduced to 16 or even 15, in recognition of contemporary sexual mores. Gambling should be decriminalized, and probably environmental offenses as well, such as killing a migratory bird; such offenses should be left to the civil law, with its financial sanctions.
The sale and possession of marijuana are en route to being decriminalized; and I am inclined to think that cocaine, heroin, methamphetamime, LSD, and the rest of the illegal drugs should be decriminalized as well - though not deregulated. [...]
Sentences even for serious crimes are too long. A bank robber, convicted of his latest bank robbery at the age of thirty, may find himself sentenced to life in prison. [...] Our thirty-year-old bank robber will be unlikely to commit bank robberies, or for that matter other serious crimes (he may have no aptitude for criminal activity other than robbery), after he turns fifty.
source: About the book 'Inferno - An Anatomy of American Punishment' by Robert A. Ferguson; Book review 'We Need a Strong Prison System - But we need to imprison people for fewer crimes and for less time' by Richard A. Posner (judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School); www.newrepublic.com/article/117803/inferno-anatomy-american-punishment-robert-ferguson-reviewed; New Republic; 25 May 2014