Drug violence and alcohol violence are on the rise in Minnesota. The presence of drugs or alcohol can place men, women, and children at risk of experiencing an assault. It is estimated that alcohol plays a factor in up to 40% of all violent crimes, including rape and sexual assault. Recent studies conducted by the Department of Justice indicate that 37% of individuals incarcerated for violent crimes admit to drinking during the commission of their crime.
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Alcohol’s Impact on Judgment
Alcohol depresses the nervous system and slows reaction time. This decreases an individual’s ability to defend themselves from a violent attack. It also impairs judgment and can significantly impact behavior and emotions. Individuals who have been drinking may lash out and become violent for any number of reasons. Moreover, alcohol can cause an individual to ignore the consequences of their actions.
Drugs Increase the Risk of Violence
Drug usage increases the risk of violence for several reasons. First, an individual who takes a psychoactive substance such as PCP, methamphetamine, crack cocaine, LSD, or psilocybin mushrooms develops a distorted sense of reality. This distorted perception can cause them to react violently to perceived threats. In Minnesota, it is estimated that up to 8.24% of residents utilize illicit drugs. The state’s drug usage rates are slightly higher than the national average of 8.02%.
Drug users may also commit secondary crimes such as robbery or theft in order to pay for their drug addictions. Indeed, the state’s overall violent crime rate increased 8% in 2015. Alarmingly, murder rates rose nearly 60% over the previous year. Many of these murders have been associated with illicit drugs. Either the perpetrator was on drugs at the time they committed the crime, or they were committing robbery in order to secure funds to purchase drugs.
Treatment Mitigates Risk
New sentencing guidelines in the state are geared to divert low-level drug and alcohol offenders into treatment programs. It is believed that these programs will treat the addictions that can lead to assaults. The state has authorized $750,000 in additional funding for 70 new Chemical Dependency beds in correctional facilities.
The state has also earmarked $488,000 in grants for the creation and operation of chemical dependency and treatment programs. Legislators believe that these treatment programs will help offenders “kick their habit” before their issues with drug and alcohol lead them down a violent path. With an estimated 434,000 Minnesotans using illicit substances, and an estimated 2.7 million consuming alcohol regularly, Minnesota criminal defense lawyers believe increased treatment could significantly reduce the state’s violent crime rates.