Pubdate: Mon, 22 Feb 2010
Source: Gainesville Sun, The (FL)
Copyright: 2010 The Gainesville Sun
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding your Feb. 17th editorial, Florida is one of many states
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 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. 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 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, DC

(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.) 
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