YAL for personal freedom

Rachel Jenks

According to the Young Americans for Liberty, 40 percent of drug offenders sentenced in 2012 were under the age of 30, one third of whom were sentenced for marijuana offenses.

The YAL is a national Libertarian organization that tries to educate younger generations on various political issues.  NMU’s division of the YAL was started in the spring of 2015 and has been focusing on bringing awareness to the high incarceration levels for drug offenses.re-YAL

“Since the creation of long mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes in the ’80s, federal prisons have grown by 800 percent,” junior environmental science and political science major Andy Slaven said.

Slaven, the NMU YAL recruitment director, went on to say how the current system in place is unjust and how the U.S. incarcerates more people than any other country in the world.

The NMU YAL president, Jeremy Donohue, a senior cyber security major, emphasized personal freedom being at the core of Libertarianism. This is the foundation for the YAL’s stance that too many people are being incarcerated for drug offenses when their actions do not necessarily affect the well-being of others.

“The prison system is basically becoming a privatized industry where they want more prisoners and will do whatever they can to get more people in the prison system because it’s becoming a business in itself,” Donohue said.

Donohue continued by saying how drug offenses should be treated as a health issue, not a crime. Since Libertarians support a small government, they do not think the government should interfere with what they believe to be a personal medical issue.

“Just the act of using something in your own home—you shouldn’t get sent to jail for that.”

The 20 members of the NMU YAL interact primarily on their Facebook page discussing the issues and planning upcoming events but try to meet at least once a month.

The group has hosted several events over the past semester and will continue to bring awareness to drug offense incarcerations over the upcoming semester.

The group reports a positive response to their past events, garnering nearly 30 requests for more information.

Donohue attributes this to how most university aged people know someone who has dealt with drug or alcohol offenses and how dramatically it impacts their lives. The NMU YAL holds their informational events in the ticket booth in Jamrich Hall, with the next event planned for Wednesday, Jan. 20.

For more information about joining the YAL, contact Andy Slaven at [email protected] or Jeremy Donohue at [email protected]