Pubdate: Mon, 20 May 2002
Source: News & Observer (NC)
Copyright: 2002 The News and Observer Publishing Company
Author: John V. G. Mayton


State budget problems have prompted the governor to request cost-cutting 
proposals from his departmental leadership. One measure proposed by the 
Department of Correction is to shut down the DART (Drug Alcohol Recovery 
Treatment)-Cherry Program.

Each year this program provides long-term treatment for nearly 2,000 
criminal offenders who have chemical dependency problems. The cost of 
housing and treating these men amounts to less than $40 per day as compared 
to the average daily in-prison cost of $65.27. It does not take an 
accountant to show which one will save you money.

The stated mission of the Department of Correction is to protect public 
safety. Yet to place an additional burden on the criminal justice system by 
the elimination of DART-Cherry would mean more drug-addicted criminals on 
the street.

Some think that "treatment" is a soft approach to crime. There is nothing 
soft about the DART-Cherry program. It is an extremely arduous course of 
treatment. Many offenders state that they would rather do time in a prison 
than endure this course of therapy.

Others may wonder if treatment works. Research shows it does indeed work, 
that forced treatment works better than voluntary treatment, and that it 
saves money.

Closing this program is penny wise but pound foolish, costing us more in 
the long run.

John V. G. Mayton

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