Poll Shows Americans Strongly Oppose Jailing Minor Drug Offenders

Three out of four Americans oppose jailing minor drug offenders, including those convicted of purchasing drugs, according to a recently released American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) poll. The results indicate that a majority of Americans draw sharp distinctions between drug trafficking crimes and other drug offenses.
“I’m sure that the nation’s new czar would be surprised to learn that, in reality, a majority of Americans have come to realize we cannot incarcerate our way out of the drug problem,” ACLU President Nadine Strossen said. “Our findings shine a glaring spotlight on the misdirection of the drug war the last two decades.”
The study also found that more than 60 percent of the public support changing current laws so that fewer non-violent offenses are punishable by prison. An equal percentage of respondents said they opposed mandatory sentences for non-violent crimes.
“The results of this poll make it clear that most Americans oppose arresting and jailing responsible marijuana users,” NORML Foundation Executive Director Allen St. Pierre said.
The ACLU’s findings are similar to those of a June ABC News poll that found roughly 3 to 1 support among the public for state laws requiring treatment over jail time for first and second-time drug offenders. A March Pew Research Center poll reported that 74 percent of Americans believe the drug war is a failure.
The ACLU poll sampled opinions from 2000 random adults nationwide.
For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Foundation Executive Director, at (202) 483-8751. A summary of the poll’s findings appears online at: http://www.aclu.org/features/f071901a.html.