Pubdate: Sun, 09 Jul 2006
Source: Times, The  (Munster IN)
Copyright: 2006 The Munster Times
Author: Robert Sharpe


Lake County is not the only jurisdiction 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 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 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 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, Policy Analyst

Common Sense for Drug Policy

Washington D.C.
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