Pubdate: Wed, 24 Jan 2001
Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)
Copyright: 2001 The Baltimore Sun, a Times Mirror Newspaper.
Contact:  501 N. Calvert Street P.0. Box 1377 Baltimore, MD 21278
Fax: (410) 315-8912
Authors: Robert Sharpe, Edward Muhlbach
Note: 2nd headline supplied by MAP


If approved by the legislature, Gov. Parris N. Glendening's proposed $22 
million increase in state funding for drug treatment will ultimately save 
Maryland money ("State offers more funds to treat addicts," Jan. 16). The 
"Land of the Free" recently earned the dubious distinction of having the 
highest incarceration rate in the world, with drug offenses accounting for 
the majority of federal incarcerations. At an average cost of $25,071 per 
inmate annually, maintaining the world's largest prison system can hardly 
be considered fiscally conservative. Numerous studies have found that 
prison transmits violent habits rather than reduces them. Most non-violent 
drug offenders are eventually released, but with dismal job prospects 
because of their criminal records. Rather than waste resources turning 
potentially productive members of society who use drugs into hardened 
criminals, we should fund cost-effective treatment. It's time to rethink 
the failed drug war and treat all substance abuse, legal or otherwise, as 
the public health problem it is.

Robert Sharpe, Washington

The writer is a program officer for the Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy 
Foundation, a nonprofit group that promotes alternatives to the war on drugs.

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The promise from the governor of substantial increases in state funding for 
drug abuse treatment is good news for the citizens of Maryland. Every 
addict who can be helped to become drug-free in the community rather than 
being locked up in prison would save taxpayers around $20,000 a year. Many 
of them (not all) will be able to hold down jobs or to be more productive 
in the jobs they now have. And reducing the market for illicit drugs makes 
more sense socially and economically than pumping billions of dollars into 
our perennially failing war on drugs. Reduce the demand, and we may not 
have to spend so much to cut the supply.

Edward Muhlbach, New Freedom, Pa.
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MAP posted-by: Larry Stevens