Prosecutors often have a fair amount of discretion when it comes to drug prosecutions. Thus, changes in drug prosecution policy can have some pretty major impacts.
A change in drug prosecution policy was recently announced here in Cook County. The new policy represents a softening when it comes to the stance towards low-level drug offenses in the Chicago area. Among the things the new policy reportedly will involve are:
- Prosecutors in the county not pursuing prosecution in many future misdemeanor marijuana possession cases.
- An increased focus among prosecutors in the county on steering low-level non-violent felony drug cases toward treatment rather than jail.
- A new plan for low-level juvenile drug offender diversion.
- New alternative programs aimed at helping drug offenders overcome addictions.
The hope with this new policy is that it will better help address the problem of drug abuse in the county, save the county money and give drug offenders a better chance to successfully rebound from their situation.
This reflects a trend that has been happening among many prosecutors in the nation: a movement away from some of the draconian and hard-line drug prosecution policies of the past.
What do you think of this new drug prosecution policy in Cook County? Do you think it is a good policy? What impacts do you think it will have? Are there things this new policy does not include that you think that it should?
Now, while prosecutors here in Cook County and other parts of the country appear to be significantly softening their stance when it comes to low-level drug offenses, this does not mean that being accused of a low-level drug offense is no longer a big deal and can no longer have the potential to have serious impacts on a person. Thus, promptly seeking out an experienced criminal defense attorney can be wise when one is accused of a drug offense, whether it be a high-level offense or low-level offense.
Source: ABC News, “Low-Level Chicago Drug Offenders to Get Treatment, Not Jail,” Don Babwin, April 20, 2015