Pubdate: Fri, 15 Sep 2006
Source: Daily Reflector (Greenville, NC)
Copyright: 2006 Daily Reflector
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding "Pitt drug court program sees first graduates" in the Sept.
10 Reflector, the Pitt County Drug Treatment Court is definitely a
step in the right direction, but an arrest should not be a necessary
prerequisite for drug treatment. Would alcoholics seek help for their
illness if doing so were tantamount to confessing to criminal
activity? Likewise, would putting every incorrigible alcoholic behind
bars and saddling them with criminal records prove

The United States recently earned the dubious distinction of having
the highest incarceration rate in the world, with drug offenses
accounting for the majority of federal incarcerations.

This is big government at its worst. At an average cost of $26,134 per
inmate annually, maintaining the world's largest prison system can
hardly be considered fiscally conservative. The threat of prison that
coerced treatment relies upon can backfire when it's actually put to
use. Prisons transmit violent habits rather than reduce them.

Imagine if every alcoholic were thrown in jail and given a permanent
criminal record. How many lives would be destroyed? How many families
torn apart? How many tax dollars would be wasted turning potentially
productive members of society into hardened criminals?

Robert Sharpe

Arlington, Va.
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