Pubdate: Thu, 25 Nov 2004
Source: Athens Banner-Herald (GA)
Copyright: 2004 Athens Newspapers Inc
Author: David Newbury


An Athens Banner-Herald article (Nov. 21) quotes Clarke County Sheriff
Ira Edwards as saying "he will continue exploring ways to address the
overcrowding issue" in the county jail.

How about ending the relentless determination to throw every minor
drug offender behind bars? How about focusing more efforts on proven
methods like treatment and prevention for offenders? Although the
statistics vary, it's safe to say additional enforcement, including
jail expansions, costs roughly four times as much as treatment for a
given amount of user reduction, seven times as much for consumption
reduction and 15 times as much for societal cost reduction.

The solution to jail overcrowding is to stop incarcerating the usually
non-violent and otherwise productive drug offenders and view drug use
as the disease it is, rather than a crime. Time and again, treatment
has proven the most effective way to combat drug use, yet such
programs fail to get either the respect or the financing they deserve.

It just doesn't make sense to continue wasting tax dollars to build
new prisons to lock people away, when those same dollars could be used
on proven methods for helping the people who need it.

David Newbury

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