As a constituent I write to urge you to sponsor and support Senate Bill 1830 to replace harmful and ineffective “War on Drugs” policies with a public health approach to drug use aimed at reducing the harms associated with drug use.
From 2016 to 2018, 20,000 people in Illinois were convicted of felonies for possessing small amounts of drugs, and 7,500 were imprisoned. While the War on Drugs has done little to fulfill any of the promises made when we “get tough on crime,” felony penalties have driven mass incarceration, devastated low-income communities, and exacerbated the risk of fatal overdose. It is time for a different approach.
While Illinois is one of only 18 states that classifies possession of any amount of a controlled substance as a felony, our rates of drug use, addiction, and fatal overdose are no lower than those of other states that treat small-scale drug possession as a misdemeanor.
SB 1830 would reclassify the penalty for possessing a small amount of drugs from a felony to a misdemeanor, and help people who need drug treatment access services in their communities. This approach is not only proven to be effective, it is popular. More than three-quarters of Illinois voters (79%) support this measure.
Illinois must move beyond the failed policies of the past and take a public health approach to drug use. Please help advance justice and reduce barriers to recovery in our State by supporting and sponsoring SB 1830.