Pubdate: Sun, 02 Sep 2007
Source: Oshkosh Northwestern (WI)
Copyright: 2007 Gannett Co., Inc.
Author: Robert Sharpe


Winnebago's drug 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 cost-effective?

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?


MPA Policy Analyst

Common Sense for Drug Policy,

Washington, DC
- ---
MAP posted-by: Steve Heath