Pubdate: Sun, 20 Mar 2005
Source: Muskogee Daily Phoenix (OK)
Copyright: C2005 Muskogee Daily Phoenix
Author: Robert Sharpe
Bookmark: (Incarceration)


Oklahoma 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 Corp. 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. As noted in your 
thoughtful March 11 editorial, 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 
antisocial 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.

Reference for above-mentioned study: Rydell, C.P. & Everingham, S.S., 
Controlling Cocaine, Prepared for the Office of National Drug Control 
Policy and the United States Army (Santa Monica, CA: Drug Policy Research 
Center, RAND Corporation, 1994), p. 42.


Policy Analyst 
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