Earlier this year, the Louisiana state legislature passed a package of prison reform laws with the goal of reducing the incarceration rate.  More than 800 out of every 100,000 residents of Louisiana are in jail, which is the highest ratio in the country.

As part of enforcing the legislation, 1900 inmates in Louisiana prisons were granted early releases on November 1st.  The offenders were all classified as "non-violent", and most were convicted of theft and/or minor drug possession offenses.

According to the United States Sentencing Commission nearly 50% of the country's prison inmates are serving time for drug convictions.  The most prevalent drug convictions in Louisiana are for possession of powder cocaine and heroin, with methamphetamine a close third.  In more than half of the 50 states, the #1 drug that results in getting people locked up is meth.

The rise in meth production and consumption in the U.S. is staggering.  The Treatment Center reports meth is replacing marijuana as young adults’ drug of choice: "Louisiana’s youth prefer meth to marijuana in part because it’s cheaper, and in part, because meth is less bulky and obviously identified. Meth can be easily transported to school, after school jobs, and other activities without being detected."  Meth is widely considered to be the most addictive drug.  Scientists now believe that one hit of crystal meth can cause a person to become addicted.

Today is National Meth Awareness Day, a day established in 2006 by President George W. Bush to bring awareness to the meth problem in our country.  According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the day's goal is "to send a prevention message to potential meth users and to educate current users about programs that are available to them."