Whose Responsibility Is Substance Abuse Treatment?
Williams, Melvin L., Corrections Today
In response to public outcry, U.S. lawmakers have determined that using, selling, purchasing and possessing certain drugs are criminal acts. This has created an explosion in the U.S. prison population. Punishment for these acts ranges from a slap on the wrist to life in prison. Nationwide, the prison population grew by 25,000 last year, bringing it to almost 1.6 million. Another 723,000 people are in local jails. The number of American adults is about 230 million, meaning that one in every 99.1 adults is behind bars. The U.S. is a nation of laws that concern behavior, especially when it is perceived that the behavior will infringe on the rights of others. The dilemma, then, for corrections professionals when substance abusing offenders are incarcerated is what can be done?
During the past 30 years, a whole new set of offenders has emerged as a result of the war on drugs. Since 1970, the state and federal prison population has grown nearly seven-fold. (1) Certainly most would agree that law enforcement agencies have not been successful in stopping the flow of illegal drugs into this country, nor had the public been successful in curtailing their use. This comes at a tremendous financial cost to taxpayers. According to the National Association of State Budgeting Officers, states spent $44 billion in tax dollars on corrections in 2007. That is up from $10.6 billion in 1987. With money from bonds and the federal government included, total state spending on corrections in 2007 was $49 billion. The report also revealed that states are on track to spend an additional $25 billion by 2011.
In addition to the obvious costs, there are hidden expenses. According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, health care costs attributable to drug abuse were projected to total $15.8 billion in 2002. (2) Many practitioners estimate …
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Publication information: Article title: Whose Responsibility Is Substance Abuse Treatment?. Contributors: Williams, Melvin L. - Author. Magazine title: Corrections Today. Volume: 70. Issue: 6 Publication date: December 2008. Page number: 82+. © 2009 American Correctional Association, Inc. COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale Group.
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