Right on Crime’s Greg Glod, Director of State Initiatives, examines Arizona’s broad, and often confusing, mandatory drug sentencing laws.

While many mandatory minimum sentencing laws, particularly for drug offenses, were created to address problems of drug use, abuse, and drug-related criminal offenses, Glod discusses how they have not worked in Arizona to increase public safety or to decrease drug-related offenses as intended. Instead, they have contributed to Arizona’s high rate of incarceration while leaving underlying problems of substance abuse largely unaddressed.

To begin to remedy these problems, Glod suggests the implementation of a judicial “safety valve,” allowing judges to depart from a prescribed mandatory sentence where appropriate, and to de-felonize lower-level marijuana offenses to better discriminate between “personal use” and distribution, as many states have already done.