In a lot of ways, the War on Drugs has been a failed operation. Not only have addiction rates soared across the country in recent years, but our government now locks up individuals whose only crime is dependence on a substance declared illegal.
Treating chemical dependence as a criminal act rather than a medical concern has kept people from seeking the treatment that could end the cycle of addiction and damaged the trust between communities and law enforcement, as well as between constituents and their government. There are many ways in which the current criminal justice system fails those with addiction, especially those accused of nonviolent drug offenses.
Most incarcerated addicts don’t get the care they need
Quite a few people who go to jail for addiction serve their sentences and never see any kind of rehabilitative therapy while in prison. Research indicates that between 80% and 85% of inmates with addiction don’t receive the therapy or care they need to understands their addiction and overcome it.
That means that after enduring the trauma of incarceration, these individuals will go back out into the world with no better coping skills or understanding of what drives their addiction than they had prior to their jail time. What often results is recidivism and the so-called revolving door of modern prison facilities.
Prison officials just can’t seem to keep drugs out of their facilities
When people think about drug addicts winding up in jail, they may see a silver lining in the idea that incarceration will force that person to detox or withdraw from the substance to which they have an addiction. Unfortunately, criminal activity inside of the penal system abounds.
Inmates not only make their own alcohol but also arrange for people to smuggle all kinds of drugs into the prison itself. In other words, inmates can still access almost any substance to which they have an addiction while in prison. Without therapy and support, they will likely find themselves feeding their addiction instead of defeating it.
Those facing drug charges in New York may want to consider whether drug court could help them address the underlying addiction. They may also want to explore whether counseling and other therapies could help them avoid future issues with the legal system.