The complex issues of dealing with offenders in the criminal justice system has been a point of ongoing controversy, particularly in the arena of sentencing. In one camp there are those who believe offenders should be punished to the full extent of the law, while others advocate a more rehabilitative approach. The balancing act of max punishment for crimes committed, and rehabilitating the offender for reintegration into society has produced varying philosophies. With the emanation of drug-induced crimes over the past few decades, the concept of drug treatment courts has emerged. The premise of these courts is to offer a “treatment based alternative to prison,” which consist of intensive treatment services, random drug testing, incentives
The need for prison-based addiction treatment is intense. In the most recent data from the Department of Justice in 2002, it was found that 68 percent of offenders reported symptoms of addiction in the year before their admission to jail that met addiction criteria. 16 percent of convicted offenders report they have committed their offense in order to get money for drugs. 63 percent of offenders who met addiction criteria had participated in some form of treatment in the past (James & Karberg, 2005).
Prisons and county jails are extremely over populated, so over populated that in some jails inmates are sleeping on the floors. According to Senator Jeanne Shaheen (From Senator Jeanne Shaheen: Prison Overcrowding, 2011), the federal prisons are currently 35 percent over their capacity. The overcrowding is costing the criminal justice system and taxpayers more money to transfer inmates to other facilities and in lawsuits brought by inmates against the prisons. With the prisons and county jails facing major overcrowding issues and drug treatment programs being a viable alternative to prison time, more states need to be implementing drug / treatment programs. Treatment / Drug Courts are specialized courts to help stop drug, alcohol, and related criminal activity (U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration,2011). These courts closely monitor the participants in the treatment programs and if a participant fails to meet the minimum requirements set by the courts, immediate sanctions are imposed (U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, 2011). The main goal of Treatment / Drug Courts is to give the individual a second chance to receive the therapy that is a necessity to help break the drug or alcohol addiction, without going to prison. Utilizing drug treatment programs, as an alternative to prison time does not just benefit the individual in the programs it also relieves some of the overcrowding prisons and county jails, saves the criminal justice system and taxpayers money, helps lowers the recidivism rates, and benefits the family of the individual in the drug treatment program.
In his article, “We can’t afford to ignore drug addiction in prison,” David Sack states, “Addiction is a chronic illness that needs long term care… Prison just buys a little time before the addict relapses and re-offends, perpetuating the cycle and hurting himself along with the rest of us. It’s a good incentive to look beyond incarceration for solutions to society’s ills…Let’s…make a real commitment to seeing how much we can accomplish with effective addiction treatment.” Sack establishes that addiction is a medical condition that causes addicts to be more likely to recidivate. People should be welcoming ex-prisoners as returning members of society instead of ignoring them, allowing them to commit another crime, and be reincarcerated- only to repeat the cycle. Sack proposes the simple solution of actively supporting prison treatments for addicts. RDAP is the perfect program to be supported, because it provides the necessary treatment to prevent prisoners from relapsing once they are released. By supporting RDAP, the recidivism rate lowers as inmates are given the opportunity to return as citizens who are healthy and able to contribute to
Everyday Americans are arrested for illegal drug abuse, making it difficult for them to receive employment and maintain a financially stable lifestyle. If all illegal drugs were decriminalized entirely, drug abuse would drop dramatically. Drug abuse in the United States is seen as a criminal justice issue and, millions of individuals are incarcerated each year. Instead of criminalizing the use of drugs, abuse should solely be seen as a health concern. Drug abusers and addicts direly deserve support and treatment, in lieu of imprisoning them and convicting them of a felony that will trail them for the rest of their lives.
Once these individuals in rehab serve there sentence the majority of them, won’t look straight to the next opportunity to get high, but the next opportunity for a better future after being encouraged in rehab to accomplish something in life, compared to someone’s attitude coming out of prison. One story involved a man named Richard with his wife Marcia. She was an addict who was often jailed for it, but Anthony believed like many others that “addiction can be overcome with proper help. He believed that the solution was to get her into a mental hospital [and] get her whatever she needs – Xanax, morphine, to get her chemical imbalance right. Show her some respect. (114)” Give her some working skills, so once she gets out she is capable of being successful but instead she kept getting “kicked down the steps” by the criminal justice system. The jailing and torture of addicts is routine to people serving cases for drug related offenses, who are often not built to endure prison, let alone jail. “The Justice Department estimates that 216,000 people are raped in these prisons every year. (This is the number of rapes, not the number of rapes – that is much higher.) (109)” This is ultimately shows the simple fact that many people are not built to endure
The link between drug use and crime is not a new one. For more than twenty years, both the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute of Justice have funded many studies to try to better understand the connection. One such study was done in Baltimore on heroin users. This study found high rates of criminality among users during periods of active drug use, and much lower rates during periods of nonuse (Ball et al. 1983, pp.119-142). A large number of people who abuse drugs come into contact with the criminal justice system when they are sent to jail or to other correctional facilities. The criminal justice system is flooded with substance abusers. The need for expanding drug abuse treatment for this group of people was recognized in the Crime Act of 1994, which for the first time provided substantial resources for federal and state jurisdictions. In this paper, I will argue that using therapeutic communities in prisons will reduce the recidivism rates among people who have been released from prison. I am going to use the general theory of crime, which is based on self-control, to help rationalize using federal tax dollars to fund these therapeutic communities in prisons. I feel that if we teach these prisoners some self-control and alternative lifestyles that we can keep them from reentering the prisons once they get out. I am also going to describe some of today’s programs that have proven to be very effective. Gottfredson and Hirschi developed the general theory of crime.
As you might already be aware there is a ballot initiative on this upcoming November’s election about drugs, and drug treatment. This measure is called Proposition 36. If this measure were to pass, state law would be changed, so that certain non-violent adult offenders who use or possess illegal drugs would receive drug treatment and supervision in the community, not prison. Right now California is ranked number one in the nation for its rate of imprisonment for drug offenders. If Proposition 36 passes, California could become number one for its treatment for drug offenders. The measure also provides state funds to counties to operate the drug treatment programs. Additionally, studies have shown that drug treatment is a far more effective than prison in reducing future criminal activity. Robert Roseman, a 51-year-old heroin addict from Sacramento says, “I was always able to get drugs in prison…all you’re going to learn in prison is to do crime better.”
In most countries, drug abuse is viewed as a crime in the lens of the law. People judge addicts as a bad guy or trouble maker and will want to put them in jail and/or punish them. However, we forget something more important that is, they will return to society one day and be one of us. Therefore, the outcome we should focus on is whether addicts recover after being release from the correctional facilities rehabilitations, instead of putting them in prison.
Substance abuse is a grim issue that affects the Canadian inmate population; it can be defined as overindulgence in or dependence on an addictive substance, especially alcohol or drugs. Within Canada, 80% of offenders entering the federal prison system are identified as having a substance abuse problem; this goes beyond mere indication of tougher drug legislation, it uncovers further discrepancy. Due to the immense majority of offenders affected by this complex mental illness, in addition to varied levels of individual cognitive ability. Consequently conventional abstinence-based treatment methods may not benefit all offenders. Untreated, this dynamic risk factor precursor’s future offending, as a study reveals dependency on illegal drugs is the single most serious risk for repeated offending. It has been established substance control is a far more feasible short term goal than outright eradication. With this ideology, the premise of one’s analysis will be on substance abuse control methodologies, gauging effectiveness and overall success in achieving its purpose.