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America's plan for 'low-level' drug offenders

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder speaks on stage during the annual meeting of the American Bar Association in San Francisco, California August 12, 2013 (Credit: Reuters/Stephen Lam) The population of the United States' federal prison system has grown by 800 percent since 1980.  US Attorney General Eric Holder thinks this is in part due to punishments that are too harsh for low-level drug offenders.  

America has a drug problem.  There is no denying that.  But depending on who you talk to, drug abuse is decreasing or on the rise.  According to the 2013 World Drug Report, cocaine use is falling in the US, but our country is still the largest market for it.  The use of opiates is on the rise in North America.  The Drug Enforcement Administration “estimated that more than 750,000 fewer teenagers used illicit drugs last year than in 2000, a 17 percent decline,” and “current marijuana use by teens has dropped seven percent.”

About half of America's federal prisoners are incarcerated for drug related charges.  According to Mr. Holder's speech on Monday, the US holds about 25 percent of the entire world's incarcerated population but only accounts for 5 percent of the global population.   

"Although incarceration has a role to play in our justice system, widespread incarceration at the federal, state, and local levels is both ineffective and unsustainable," Mr. Holder said. "It imposes a significant economic burden — totaling $80 billion in 2010 alone — and it comes with human and moral costs that are impossible to calculate."

While I am not sure what the outcome of Mr. Holder's plans will be, I definitely agree with him when he said, “We cannot simply prosecute or incarcerate our way to becoming a safer nation.”

What will make our streets, cities, states, country and world safer is to be a part of Fifth Great Awakening.  Globally, tens of thousands of people are coming to Christ every day.  But America and Western Europe combined represent less than 8% of those conversions.  More and more, Americans are claiming no religion at all.  They're known as “nones” because they fill in the "none" circle on surveys under question of religious affiliation.  

In the Denison Forum's 2013 Lenten Devotional, If My People,  Dr. Jim Denison pointed out that "a revival changes a person or church; spiritual awakening transforms a nation. When the Fourth Great Awakening swept Wales, for instance, saloons went bankrupt and police formed barbershop quartets to sing in churches since there was no one to arrest."

I've heard sin described as an illegitimate way of meeting a God-given need.  If we fulfill our need for grace, love, community, and identity through Christ and his Church, our prison guards might need to find a new line of work.  

Addiction counselors explain that when an addict acts out, they are looking for relief—it's the recovering addict's job (with help) to understand the pain or stress that triggered their behavior.  In the twelve-step program for addiction recovery, the first step is to admit powerlessness over addictions and that life is unmanageable.  Step two is to recognize that God is able to restore sanity to life, and step three is to relinquish one's life and will to God.  

These steps are embodied in 2 Chronicles 7:14 which says, "if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land."  

Check out some of the resources on our website. God is Not a Hobby and Continuing the Awakening - Practicing the Presence of Jesus are wonderful content to pass along for those looking to seek God's face.  They are free to download or you can order booklet versions.

Join us at the Denison Forum as we daily pray for America to seek God's face and turn from its wicked way. 


God Is Not A Hobby: The Fifth Awakening and the future of America

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