Pubdate: Tue, 24 Feb 2004
Source: Post and Courier, The (Charleston, SC)
Copyright: 2004 Evening Post Publishing Co.
Author: Robert Sharpe


South Carolina is not the only state grappling with overcrowded
prisons. 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 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 nonviolent drug offenders alongside hardened criminals
is the equivalent of providing them with a taxpayer-funded education
in criminal 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.


MPA Policy Analyst

Common Sense for Drug Policy

Arlington, Va.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake