Tim Lynch, director of the criminal justice project for the libertarian Cato Institute, called the numbers “scandalous” and said states have resorted to “tinkering” to solve prison overcrowding.
“I think these numbers demonstrate that we’ve lost our way,” Lynch said. “We’ve lost our way when our laws require such a massive scale of incarceration.”
Lynch and others said the drug war is destroying American inner cities almost as much as the drug trade. “When you lock up a bank robber, a child molester or a mugger, you’re removing a career offender from the street.
“When you lock up a drug dealer, he is immediately replaced,” Lynch said. “We tried this with alcohol during Prohibition and it didn’t work. We’re not reaching the same conclusion with the drug war. It’s slowly sinking in, but it will take politicians some time to turn this around.”