Pubdate: Mon, 20 Jan 2003
Source: Daily Press (VA)
Copyright: 2003 The Daily Press
Author: Robert R. Bradley Jr.


As a professional in the treatment of drug addicts, I couldn't agree more 
with Neal Peirce's Jan. 6 column, "How many (ex-)prisoners is a recession 
worth?" on the fallacy of incarcerating people for minor drug law 
violations instead of providing them with the treatment they need to break 
free of their addictions and become useful members of society.

Not only can we no longer afford the cost of keeping 2 million people in 
prison, but history has proved time and time again that simply putting 
people in prison seldom works.

A recent study by the University of Delaware, for example, found that 70 
percent of those who did not receive adequate treatment were rearrested 
within 18 months, as compared to only 29 percent of those who had.

And a follow-up study in California showed that over 75 percent of addicts 
who did not participate in a treatment program were back in prison within 
three years, as compared to less than 28 percent of those who had.

In addition to the tremendous cost of keeping people in prison, there are 
also a number of hidden costs associated with imprisonment, including the 
added cost of child welfare and the loss of potential tax revenue.

No, from both an economic and a humanitarian point of view, simply putting 
addicted people in prison just doesn't make sense.

Robert R. Bradley Jr.

Chief executive officer

Serenity House

Newport News
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