The terms drugs and prison are often mentioned in the same sentence because of the close association that exists between the two. Not only are people sent to prison due to involvement in drugs in some manner or another, there is some evidence that shows that a large number of crimes are committed under the influence of a drug.
Drug and Prison Statistics
It may surprise many to know that the 85 percent of the estimated 2.3 million prison inmates have had or still do some kind of serious drug abuse history. This is a massive number. About 458,000 inmates were actually under the influence of alcohol or drugs when the crime was committed or are incarcerated due to drug violations like selling or buying drugs.
It is thought that addressing these patterns of addiction and restoring such prisoners to the economy would actually bring down the number of inmates that exist in the prisons today and result in significant taxpayer savings. According to Columbia University’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) only 11 percent of the nation’s prison population is receiving some kind of treatment for drug abuse.
It is also estimated that those inmates who are in prison due to drugs are more likely to be incarcerated again. These are also people who are likely to have a history of crime and have a complete network of other people involved in crime.
Drugs are involved in a wide range of crimes – violent (78 percent); property (83 percent); weapon offenses (77 percent) and parole violations (77 percent).
Rehab Programs and their Popularity
The CASA report also states that if all inmates who need drug treatment are provided with the rehab that is required (and it works), the nation would break even in a year. This relies upon the treatments actually working and deterring crime, but if so, “the nation would reap an economic benefit of $90,953 per year” per recovered inmate.
However, the fact is that only a small percentage of people are receiving adequate levels of substance abuse treatment and are therefore merely being given a sentence and being put back into circulation for crime. Instead of increasing the rehab options for inmates, there is an attempt to give harsh punishments to those who are caught in drug trafficking or drug dealing. When punishing someone of a separate crime adequate care is not taken to consider the fact that the perpetrator of the crime needs drug treatment.
What often goes unrecognized is that thousands of low level drug offenders are captured and sent to prison and that many also face harsh sentencing even if they have not been involved in any violent crimes.
Understanding the real truth of drug addiction is essential to be able to help drug abusers in a more permanent manner. Unless a more long term and positive approach is adopted towards drugs and prison, drug related crimes shall continue to occur (and recur). And what this means is that the prison cells are likely to remain full all the time, eating away the tax payer’s money continuously, dragging lives in and out of prison to a halt.
While better recognition of the substance abuse problems of inmates is important to remedying this problem, it is also good to nip possible substance abuse in the bud. With a home drug test you can check up on your child and make sure they are not risk for the dangers of drugs, both physically and socially.
- Article by Anne Hamilton.