Treatment or prison?
The tone of the new wave of the War On Drugs was set when President Reagan got into office, the federal money for treatment budget was cut twenty five percent (8).
Dr. Nora Volkow of National Institute on Drug Abuse said "What does not work? Putting a person who is addicted to drugs in jail for five or 10 years and thinking that will cure him with no treatment," she added "The likelihood of that person relapsing is very high." (9 ).
The reality is the number of openings in prison drug treatment programs is declining and the prison population is growing (10 ).
In 2002 only a third of inmates who need mental health services or drug abuse services receive it while in prison. Only 10 percent of state inmates who need drug abuse treatment receive it, this is down from 25 percent in 1991 (11).
When treatment is offered in prison it can be lacking. California Inspector General Matthew Cate, found that recidivism of inmates who took part in the two largest in prison drug treatment programs was higher than inmates than those who received no treatment. In some cases contractors were paid for beds that went unfilled, when inmates enrolled they were kept way from much needed counseling sessions by month long prison lock downs (12 ).
A study showed that only 10 offenders who need drug treatment get it, it also said "since offenders are four times more likely as the general population to have a substance abuse disorder, treating the offender population could measurably lower the demand for drugs in our society, and reduce the crime rate." (13 ).
"Treating drug abusing offenders improves public health and safety," said NIDA Director and report co-author Dr. Nora D. Volkow. "In addition to the devastating social consequences for individuals and their families, drug abuse exacts serious health effects, including increased risk for infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C - and treatment for addiction can help prevent their spread. Providing drug abusers with treatment also makes it less likely that these abusers will return to the criminal justice system." (14).