Pubdate: Sun, 01 Aug 2004
Source: Racine Journal Times, The (WI)
Copyright: 2004, The Racine Journal Times
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding Rob Golub's thoughtful July 27th column, Racine County is
not the only County grappling with overcrowded jails. Throughout the
nation, states facing budget shortfalls are pursuing alternatives to
incarceration for nonviolent drug offenders. A study conducted by the
RAND Corporation found that every additional dollar invested in
substance abuse treatment saves taxpayers $7.48 in societal costs.
There is far more at stake than tax dollars.

The drug war is not the promoter of family values that some would have
us believe. Children of inmates are at risk of educational failure,
joblessness, addiction and delinquency. Not only do the children lose
out, but society as a whole does too. Incarcerating non-violent drug
offenders alongside hardened criminals is the equivalent of providing
them with a taxpayer-funded education in anti-social behavior. Turning
drug users into unemployable ex-cons is a senseless waste of tax
dollars. It's time to declare peace in the failed drug war and begin
treating all substance abuse, legal or otherwise, as the public health
problem it is. Destroying the futures and families of citizens who
make unhealthy choices doesn't benefit anyone. Drug abuse is bad, but
the drug war is worse.

Robert Sharpe, MPA, Policy Analyst

Common Sense for Drug Policy, Washington, D.C.
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