Danya E. Gregory
Inmates and Prisons Paper
Week 4 -CJAD 320-E1WW
February 2, 2013
Imprisoning drug offenders may resonate with some who think prison is the only way to make their communities safer, at least while they are incarcerated. Yet, the overwhelming majority of drug prisoners will come back out eventually to rejoin society, many within just a few years or even months. Most drug prisoners will return to the community after a couple of years away, and will then return to prison because we have not dealt with the complex set of core issues that led to them ending up incarcerated in the first place. (Doug McVay, 2004) One way to help ensure public safety and to build families and communities is to make sure that these former prisoners have the tools necessary to lead crime free lives and to fit into the society. Providing drug offenders with treatment is a more cost-effective way of dealing with substance addicted drug and nonviolent offenders than prison. Studies by the nation’s leading criminal justice research agencies have shown that drug treatment, in concert with other services and programs, is a more cost effective way to deal with drug offenders. (Doug McVay, 2004)
In addition to budgetary pressures on the prison-centered approach, other factors have become increasingly relevant in the search for a more balanced drug policy. It is no coincidence, for example, that four of five early health-reform proposals in Congress included provisions on the right to addiction treatment. Despite an investment of about $15 billion over the past two decades, the United States has failed to significantly reduce drug supply or demand. Although not at the center of national debate, public opinion is increasingly focused on the right of addicts to receive treatment rather than a prison sentence. "Public knowledge of the problem has slowly and silently changed. Now we know more about addictions and about the best ways of reducing consumption. (Vega, 2009)...
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