There is no more basic function of government than protecting its citizens. Libertarians believe that all individuals have a right to be secure and safe, as well as the ability to protect themselves and their property. However, there are limitations on the reach of government in both the Bill of Rights and the Georgia Constitution.
Georgia spends more than $1.2 billion on law enforcement, including $242 million in food and medical care for inmates. Of the 54,016 state prisoners in the corrections system (numbers as of FY 2008), 9,376, or 17% of the prison population, are non-violent drug offenders.
We have placed a heavy emphasis on incarceration over education and rehabilitation. We are paying a heavy price for ignoring the evidence that says the latter is more effective and cost efficient. We must make better decisions, especially in the current economic climate. Looking at this as an economic issue, we would be well served to redirect our emphasis. I agree with General Barry McCaffrey, former Director of the Office of Drug Control Policy, in that I believe we cannot arrest our way out of the drug problem.
As Governor, I will encourage the Board of Pardons and Paroles to begin reviewing the cases of these offenders and begin to integrate them back into society. I would also ask the Georgia General Assembly to do away with mandatory minimum laws for non-violent drug offenders, which have not been a successful deterrent at preventing these victimless crimes.