Pennsylvania Drug Possession Offenses
Pennsylvania takes drug possession and PWID charges seriously. The state has a growing problem with hard drug use, often resulting in high numbers of fatal overdoses. Reversing this trend is of primary importance and the drug possession offenses in Pennsylvania reflect that.
The extent of charges again depends on a few different things:
- Which class of drug the person is caught with
- Amount in the persons possession
- Whether its possession or PWID
- Number of prior drug-related offenses
For example, Schedule I, II, and III drugs come with the harshest penalties because theyre the most dangerous drugs. These include substances like heroin, meth, opioids, benzodiazepines, cocaine, ecstasy, and LSD. Potential penalties for a first-time charge include a $5,000 fine and up to a year in prison. Then a person with prior offenses will receive heavier penalties.
Again, PWID results in a stiffer charge than a simple possession charge, especially with hard drugs. Pennsylvania has a serious problem with opiates and opioids. People distributing these types of drugs receive some of the strictest charges. Someone caught with the intent to distribute an opiate or opioid could receive up to a $250,000 fine and up to 15 years in prison.
Coping With Withdrawal During Incarceration
Some people who experience withdrawal while incarcerated seek treatment for their symptoms, though this does not necessarily mean that they report to the medical staff that their symptoms are related to withdrawal. As stated earlier, in order to receive pharmacotherapy more than one participant reported misattributing withdrawal symptoms to other physical and psychological conditions or even intentionally injuring themselves. A male in-treatment participant said that he falsely told the jail medical staff that he was hearing voices so that he could get something to help him sleep and alleviate his withdrawal symptoms, but that he ended up with more problems than he started with.
I told the psych doctor that I was hearing voices and shit so I could get something to help me sleep. I was prescribed Thorazine, which did the job but they forgot to, they for – -youre supposed to take, with Thorazine youre supposed to take Cogentin with it and that counteracts the side effects. Whew, that stuff had me hallucinating and tripping hard.
Another in-treatment male participant mentioned a different sort of negative experience when he complained of suicidal ideation in order to obtain treatment for his withdrawal.
Oh yeah. Its something in here now, shooters and all. Its here.
Yes, very available I mean, it was available but it cost you. You know?
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Drug education rather than treatment is the most common service provided to prisoners who are addicts. Though 65 percent of the nations inmates meet medical criteria for substance abuse and addiction, only 11 percent have received treatment. A survey of prison medical directors suggested that most are not aware of the benefits of using medication with treatment when treatment is offered, it usually consists of only behavioral counseling and/or detoxification without follow-up.
The lack of treatment, instant and often horrendous detox symptoms and an environment where troubled individuals feed off one anothers insidious ideas and behavior is a recipe for disaster. Here in Oklahoma, where meth is a popular drug of choice, Ive worked with many people who go to prison for a small possession and leave knowing how to cook it.
Indeed, more often than not, drug offenders come out of prison worse than they went in, and life behind bars becomes a revolving door. After my second time in jail, one corrections officer called out as I was leaving, Well see you soon, Jake!
When youre mired in addiction, your entire existence revolves around getting the next hit. You simply cant see another way. Luckily, the treatment I underwent to avoid a 15-year sentence gave me the tools to realize that not only was I suffering from a disease, but I had the positive coping mechanisms to manage that disease.
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Environmental Racism Is Killing Black Communities In Louisiana
In 1959, the Dow Chemical Company moved into Plaquemine, Louisiana, and began making vinyl chloride, a colorless cancer-causing gas used to produce a variety of plastic products. Twenty years later, after years of chemical-related poisoning, vinyl chloride was found in the wells of nearby Morrisonville.
The predominantly Black River Parishes along the 85-mile stretch of the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge are overrun with over 150 plants and refineries. This area was once dubbed Cancer Alley by residents and media because of the clusters of cancer patients in the area. Now residents are calling it Death Alley because of the significant amount of deaths by cancer and other illnesses among the residents who live near the industrial pollution.
You put poison in the land, water and in the air, the result is sickness and death. The planned killing of any group is genocide, Pat Bryant, the son of sharecroppers and a resident of New Orleans, said frankly. Bryant started Justice and Beyond in 2012 as a response to social and environmental injustice along the Louisiana parishes.
How Marijuana Legalization And Other Initiatives Did In Election
A big part of the problem is that drugs are often rampant in Americas prisons. If theyre not brought in through visits with family or friends, inmates will save up their legal prescription pills handed out every day to sell or trade them with other inmates. Theres also a thriving black market of homemade concoctions.
The environment inside prison is also likely toxic. Put a bunch of untreated alcoholics, drug addicts and violent criminals together, and what could possibly go wrong?After all, when youve got a raging addiction, nothing but time and nearly nothing to lose, why not snort whatever you can get your hands on?
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The Possibility Of Significant Change
Many people perceive prisons as a waste of money due to inefficient use of accounts for substantial federal spending. However, almost two-thirds of prisons in America are upholding the method of providing drug addict prisoners with a chance to recover from dependency. This, in return, has yielded great results since the number of inmates who continue to abuse drugs and alcohol upon their release has lowered greatly.
I Walked Through Recoverys Door: Margarets Story Of Fighting Drug Addiction After Prison
Feelings of loneliness and abandonment can overcome a person struggling with addiction in prison. Reconnecting people who live in prisons to their families, friends and communities can break barriers and save lives. Margaret shares her story of escaping from a cycle of drug addiction that led to repeated prison sentences, and reveals how writing poetry helped her to find a new, meaningful life.
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What Services Are Actually Being Provided
The Correctional Service of Canada has been trying to establish successful programs for the 70% of men and women who enter into the system already in need of an intervention, such as Offender Substance Abuse Pre-release Program , Choices, the methadone maintenance program, the urinalysis program, using drug dogs, and more. Though its encouraging, are these measures enough to ensure these patients remain sober when released?
The health care delivered to prisoners in each province in Canada varies too, which could deem the release of inmates back into the population as a health hazard. Nova Scotia and Alberta prisons health care is delivered by provincial authority. In Ontario, they are looked after by the government. In B.C., the province with the highest number of overdose deaths, the prisons deal with private companies.
Inmates Need Care During Detox
When someone with an addiction starts to detox, they can experience painful withdrawal symptoms such as chills, hallucinations, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, and cramping.
At a traditional rehab centre, an addict would receive round-the-clock supervision and care by medical professionals. They would also receive medication to manage their detox symptoms.
But in prison, its not uncommon for prisoners to go through detox with little or no support.
Data from The Bureau of Justice Statistics show that less than 1 per cent of those with addiction problems get help detoxing in state prisons.
Not surprisingly addicts who detox this way, without proper intervention and treatment are far more likely to relapse if they find drugs available in prison.
Some facilities offer medications such as clonidine which do help to reduce withdrawal symptoms but are not as effective as medications like methadone and buprenorphine .
But in 2017 a report by The New York Times revealed that less than 30 correctional institutions in the United States offered drug treatment programmes that include methadone and buprenorphine, despite their proven effectiveness.
While there are several reasons for this, one of them is logistical. To provide addicts with methadone, a prison must have a license to act as a methadone clinic or partner with a community clinic.
In fact, studies show that these inmates were twice as likely to continue rehab treatment after leaving prison.
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Process Of Some Reformed Regulations
The drug addiction epidemic can be especially harsh and enticing. Addiction patients sometimes feel like they can score a fix even during their limited window of freedom while serving jail time. Judges on the bench cannot simply force people to enroll in treatment and expect them to stay engaged. The law needs something significant to hold against offenders and coax them into accepting treatment and rehabilitation which is often by allowing them serve a jail time.
Individuals who face drug abuse charges are required to regularly attend public hearings to prove they are receiving treatment and have been drug tested and not given jail time. The right drug court system can help attain the balance between the treatment process and the patients jail time supervision.
This Program Requires the Participant to Demonstrate:
- Getting better education
- Looking for employment or staying busy with a cause.
- Living in an environment that is safe and drug-free
- Serving the public in a meaningful way
When participants receive close supervision, they are more likely to complete treatment within a short timeframe, even if their problems are not so severe that they cannot stay in treatment as long as needed.
If people think of their behavior from a long-term perspective, they are more inclined to be in a position to break a chronic habit. There is no doubt that it is better than being confined to jail time and dealing with withdrawal symptoms and potential mental health issues.
History Of Imprisonment For Drug Offenders
According to those involved in the debate, the only way to decrease the use of marijuana is to bring about such severe punishments as possible to get people to realize the danger they put themselves in if they smoke under the influence, including jail time.. On the surface, that may seem plausible, and it may even have some appeal for some people. Taking this a step further, we have seen the birth of mandatory minimum jail term, an outgrowth of this process. As a result, people arrested for specific drug offences have been punished with jail time in addition to being found guilty. No matter what their background was or what their circumstances were, it didnt matter one bit. There is no way a lawyer or judge can evade the litigation and judging process rules. While this has been happening, the number of people with jail time for delinquent crimes involving drug use has risen alarmingly during the intervening period.
We Cannot Afford to Invest in People Long-Term. Hence, Those Funds Could Be Spent on Projects Like
- Employment Schemes
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The Cost Of Rehabilitation Vs Incarceration
Overall, drug rehab instead of incarceration could save billions of dollars.
Consider the following:
- Outpatient drug rehab is not as expensive as incarceration
- Recovering addicts typically commit fewer costly crimes. They also tend to be arrested less often
- Healthcare reforms are lowering the financial barrier to entry of addiction treatment
- Falling crime rates and fewer arrests will lead to reduced law enforcement and court costs
- If only 10% of drug offenders were treated for addiction instead of being incarcerated, this could save $4.8 billion annually
So Whats The Answer To Tackle Drug Addiction
The war on drugs dates back to the early 1970s. The intent was simple: to stop illegal trade. Going after manufacturers is only one of the approaches. Another is creating harsh consequences for anyone who use drugs. The drug user might be a hardened criminal or just a minor offender.
The government has poured limitless resources into the war on drugs. The link between the war on drugs and prison overcrowding is undeniable. Jail time can be effective and does have its benefits. But a look at other alternatives is also necessary.
A prison sentence is more than the short-term effects of being locked up. Its carrying a prison record for the rest of someones life. This can get in the way of jobs, career advancement, and someones livelihood. If the intent is to rehabilitate someone, there needs to be a balance.
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Why Are Drugs Addictive
Its not just about lack of willpower. Drugs and alcohol ultimately change a persons brain to the point where the brain thinks it needs it. Even though repeated use leads to harmful or severe health issues, the brain still thinks it needs the drug. Drugs affect the brains reward circuit that causes the feeling of pleasure, like getting high off drugs and entering a state of euphoria. This is why you want to do it again and again and again. Genetics can play a huge role in addiction too.
Get Help For Addiction
The legal ramifications for drug possession in the United States and around the world can be quite steep. If you or someone you know is regularly using drugs, finding effective treatment options can be the difference between freedom and incarceration, life and death. Dont stand by while your future is lost to drug addiction. Contact us today and we can connect you with a high-quality treatment program.
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Why Is Treatment So Critical In This Population
Scientific research since the mid-1970s shows that treatment of those with SUDs in the criminal justice system can change their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors toward drug use avoid relapse and successfully remove themselves from a life of substance use and crime.5-7 For example, studies suggest that using medications for opioid use disorder treatment in the criminal justice system decreases opioid use, criminal activity post-incarceration, and infectious disease transmission.8-10 Studies have also found that overdose deaths following incarceration were lower when inmates received medications for their addiction.11-12
Relapse And Exposure To Drugs And Alcohol
Former inmates described ubiquitous exposure to alcohol, drugs, and drug trafficking in their living environments. In particular, former inmates who stayed in homeless shelters found that it took substantial effort to stay away from drugs and alcohol after release from prison. One man in his mid-forties struggling to stay abstinent from drugs after his release:
“You get asked 50 times if you want some coke before you get into the door.”
One 46-year-old man who had a place to live also described frequent exposure to drugs:
“Well, when I first got out, peoples come around asking me do you want this. Hey man, I remember you, man you used to look out for me, here, here you go. I said man, no I don’t want it. I been there. I done it.”
Several participants with a history of addiction described exposure to drugs as the major challenge they faced, requiring avoidant behaviors and new skills to prevent relapse. For instance, one man, whose drug involvement led to his incarceration, had successfully averted relapse since his release. He was motivated by a desire to preserve a relationship with his son, born while he was in prison. He practiced avoidant behaviors at his shelter:
“What led me to this last time… was… frustration and wanting to feel released…. t was something also that I didn’t go look for, that was right in the house with me, and I don’t blame them for that, but it’s just… I don’t think I would have sought it out had it not been there.”
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Rehab Is The Goal: Get Treatment Today
If youre struggling with addiction to alcohol, prescription medication, or illicit drugs, take action before you end up in legal trouble.
Our evidence-based outpatient treatment programs can help you address alcohol use disorder or substance use disorder without the expense or the inconvenience of residential rehab.
All you need to do to get started is reach out to the friendly Renaissance admissions team today at 866.330.9449 and learn more about our Orange County rehab.
Drug Penalties Around The World
The penalties for drug-related crimes vary drastically from country to country:10
- In the Czech Republic, people are freely allowed to possess small amounts of marijuana and heroin for personal use.
- In Portugal, drug possession was decriminalized in 2001, so users do not serve jail time. Rather, they face fines and community service. This change has not led to an increase in drug use rates and has been correlated with a sharp increase in individuals seeking treatment for addiction.
Other parts of the world are crueler with their treatment of substance users:10
- The United Arab Emirates gives jail time to those with tiny amounts of drugs in their urine or blood.
- In Indonesia, drug trafficking is punishable by long jail sentences and sometimes the death penalty.
- People in possession of drugs in Iran can face a public lashing for their crime. Other offenses such as trafficking can lead to the death penalty about 70% of Irans executions stem from drug charges.
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