Friday, May 11, 2007

Drug Treatment Instead of Incarceration

Drug treatment instead of incarceration is becoming a buzzword, but when will lawmakers have the courage to make this happen? Nationwide between 95-97 percent of prisoners will return to their communities from prison. The great majority have some form of substance abuse problem. Will we ever learn that locking people up is not helping those incarcerated or helping to make our streets safer? Indeed, it is vastly more expensive, New Jersey spends up to $40,000 per inmate per year. Why are we locking up people whose only crime is to take drugs? Admittedly, drug use leads to crime, but then why do we not treat the disease?

There are various studies that drug treatment works. In the reentry community it is well known that those returning from prison will return to prison (recidivism rate) at a rate of 60 percent. Alternatively see the link below that presents data from Middlesex County in Central New Jersey of up to 80 percent success rates of recidivism and staying off drugs. Indeed in New Jersey these programs would help save money and more importantly help treat people who need help. New Jersey also leads the nation in drug incarceration (according to Drug Policy Alliance,, upwards of 48% of inmates are serving time for drugs. This is an urgent need not only for New Jersey, but for the nation.

Of course, as always this argument ignores the reality of imprisoning 2.2 million people in America (over 25% of the world's prison population and growing). It is big business with an outrageous profit margin. Corporations make money on the prison complexes themselves as well as healthcare, phone service, food service, etc. But, let us at least begin the conversation.


alle said...

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brook said...

Drug addiction problem is everywhere in the world. Drug treatment is necessary for save much life. You’re doing a hearty job. It is a good social service for people.

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Anonymous said...

Incarceration is a counterproductive response to drug use, and particularly to drug misuse. Instead, non-violent drug offenders should be given an opportunity to receive treatment, not jail time, for their drug use, resulting in a more effective as well as cost saving solution for the individual and the community.
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