While there have been indications that the current administration and the Department of Justice will step up enforcement of the nation’s drug laws, a report from the FBI demonstrates that drug arrests rose during 2016. There is evidence that criminalizing drugs simply doesn’t work, but law enforcement agencies and governments in Illinois and across the country continue to focus on drug crimes.

The FBI’s Uniform Crime Report showing data for 2016 has been released. During that year, 1.57 million arrests were made for drug crimes. This was an increase of 5.63 percent over the previous year. Of the arrests, 84.6 percent were made for drug possession crimes, and 41 percent of the drug arrests were made for marijuana.

According to the Drug Policy Alliance, an increasing number of people in the scientific and political communities are now recognizing that arresting people for drugs doesn’t work. Instead, the focus should be on decriminalization of drugs and on rehabilitation programs. Law enforcement agencies also enforce drug laws in a discriminating fashion. For instance, while blacks and whites use drugs at similar rates, blacks account for 29 percent of the drug arrests despite making up only 13 percent of the population.

People who are charged with drug possession crimes may face severe penalties if they are convicted. They may face years of imprisonment and heavy fines. Their families may also suffer from the loss of the support that they receive. The harsh treatment of people who use drugs has not resulted in any reduction in drug abuse. Instead, it has lead to increased poverty. People who are facing drug charges might benefit by getting help from experienced criminal defense attorneys. If there were constitutional problems with how the police conducted the investigation, the attorneys may secure dismissal of the charges. They might also negotiate pleas to lesser offenses which could result in an avoidance of incarceration.