Andrew — I probably agree to a large extent with your main point. But I strongly disagree with the tenor of your parenthetical one.
I know I am a dissident on the drug war around here, but I should say for the record that your reference to “those pesky drug offenders” sounds awfully euphemistic to me. If you mean drug dealers, well a great, great many of them are in fact very bad people. If you mean people who were convicted on drug charges, I also feel compelled to note that a great many of them are awful people too. Lots of drug “offenders” were imprisoned on those charges as a result of plea bargain compromises. There real offenses were more severe and certainly not “victimless” (though I don’t believe selling heroin is a “victimless crime” anyway). The notion that the prisons are teeming with non-violent drug offenders is something of a myth. Of course, there are some appalling examples of dumb hippy pot growers languishing in jail (I’m for the decriminalization of pot, by the way), but the suggestion that all those thugs and narcotic pushers are innocuous “drug offenders” is simply false.