Resolution on Diversion of Low-Level Drug Possession Offenders


ALEC strongly believes that the use of illegal drugs is highly damaging to individuals, families, and communities. We also recognize that many of those arrested for possessing small amounts of drugs are struggling with addiction and that prison is often an ineffective intervention, which is also extremely costly to taxpayers. Accordingly, ALEC urges states to adopt policies that promote the diversion of low-level drug possession offenders from prison and into alternatives such as drug courts and drug treatment programs required as a condition of probation.

Resolution on Diversion of Low-Level Drug Possession Offenders

WHEREAS, approximately 100,000 inmates are confined in state prisons for drug possession offenses at an average cost of more than $20,000 per year; and,

WHEREAS, many prisons lack drug treatment programs and time served for low-level drug possession offenses is often as short as six months meaning that prisons too often become revolving doors; and,

WHEREAS, drug courts and mandatory treatment as a condition of probation in a licensed non-residential or residential program have proven to be effective in reducing recidivism; and,

WHEREAS, it is important to prioritize costly prison beds for those who pose a danger to society due to their proclivity for engaging in violent and sexual offenses as well as career property criminals who repeatedly burglarize homes and businesses; and,

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that we urge states to adopt sentencing policies that divert low-level drug possession offenders, particularly those without a serious criminal history, away from prison and into drug courts and probation accompanied by mandatory treatment.


Approved by ALEC’s Justice Performance Project at the ALEC Annual Meeting on Thursday July 23, 2015 and Friday, July 24, 2015. Approved by ALEC Board of Directors on September 4, 2015.

Renewed by the Criminal Justice Task Force on July 16, 2020

Renewal approved by the Board of Directors on August 9, 2020