(According to the Obama Administration)
The Obama administration recently announced that it is serious about working on eliminating the country’s drug problem. However, the administration stressed that the focus should be on treatment for drug addicts rather than jail sentences. The belief is that treating addicts will cost the country less in the long run than incarceration. There has also been a problem in the United States with overcrowding of jails that has been tied to the incarceration of misdemeanor and repeat drug offenders.
Unfortunately, many states are voicing concerns about the financial feasibility of supporting drug rehabilitation programs. Drug programs are threatened by tight state budgets, and many people that are currently enrolled in programs are afraid that they will be left without help if budgets continue to tighten. Former addicts have expressed that rehabilitation programs have saved them from spending a lifetime in the jail system.
Sean from Beachway Therapy Center recently said “The only real answer is getting help for those with addiction problems. Throwing them in jail is not solving the real problem.” Beachway is a center located in Delray Beach, Florida that helps numerous people every month. They have seen tremendous growth and predict an even bigger 2012.
Drug rehabilitation experts back the Obama administration’s belief that people struggling with drug abuse would benefit more from treatment as opposed to time spent in jail. These experts warn that cutting such programs could be seriously detrimental to both the budgets and crime statistics of states. Not only could cutting treatment programs contribute to overcrowding in jails, but there are proven ties between drug abuse and domestic violence, child abuse and personal injuries that require attention from emergency medical personnel.
Treatment programs are projected to lower expenses related to drug enforcement over time. Treatment is aimed at significantly reducing the number of repeat offenders. Fewer repeat offenders will help ease the problem of overcrowding in jails and will save money with fewer inmates to financially support. Rehabilitation is also projected to lead to less money spent on emergency response and domestic violence support as incidences of domestic violence and personal injury related to drug use would presumably decrease.
Opposition to drug rehabilitation is not limited to the state level. Many local governments are opposed to the construction and organization of rehabilitation centers. Some of these governments have voiced concerns related to the proximity of such centers to schools, day care centers and residential communities.
If the Obama administration is able to gain support on the state and local level, the aim of the administration would be to allow drug offenders to serve time in a drug rehabilitation center rather than in a jail. While this is the ideal solution, continuing financial struggles related to state and local budgets could mean a long term delay.