being reelected and fear being labeled soft on crime by opponents and the

Being reelected and fear being labeled soft on crime

This preview shows page 33 - 35 out of 54 pages.

being reelected and fear being labeled “soft on crime” by opponents, and the failure of public policy to reflect the science of addiction and changing public attitudes about addiction and justice. But there is some good news. A number of states (and the federal government) have either reversed mandatory sentencing or are considering doing so. There are more exam- ples of evidence-based practices informing correctional policy today as evidenced across these chapters. And the public doesn’t think treatment is bad. An ABC news poll found that two-thirds of Americans support state laws requiring treatment—not jail time for first- and second-time drug offenders. 8 Drug Use and Dependence If inmates are any indication, the war on drugs is not affecting persons who commit prison-bound offenses. The U.S. Department of Justice reported its findings on drug use and dependence among state and federal prisoners in 1997 and 2004. 9 That survey found that nearly one-third of state inmates and one- fourth of federal inmates committed their offenses under the influence of drugs. Drug use in the month before the offense by state prisoners remained unchanged from 1997 (stable at 56–57 percent), but drug use in the month before the offense by federal prisoners rose from 45 to 50 percent. Today 17 percent of state prisoners are incarcerated for drug offenses, down from 21 percent a decade ago. At the federal level, it’s 48 percent, down from 56  percent a decade ago. Clearly, the number of state and federal inmates in prison for drug offenses is cause to rethink our policies and ask whether what we as a country are doing is smart on our budget. If we are releasing inmates with as little as $50, no treatment (as documented by CASA), a bus ticket, and a “good luck” wish, why is it difficult to understand why they are committing new crimes and reenter- ing the system? Almost two-thirds of all U.S. jail and prison inmates (some 1.5 million) meet the medical criteria for substance abuse addiction but only 11 percent receive any treatment while incar- cerated. What should jails and prisons do to control the revolving door of drug and alcohol abusers and addicts in and out of prison? R U D I S , B R U C E 2 9 4 5 T S
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CHAPTER 12 Special Prison Populations 389 Drug Treatment Programs Why should prisoners receive drug treatment? According to Jeremy Travis, president of John Jay Col- lege of Criminal Justice and former director of the National Institute of Justice, there are two powerful reasons. 10 First, drug offenders consume a staggering volume of illegal drugs, and any reduction in their drug use represents a significant reduction in the nation’s demand for illegal drugs. About 60 percent of the cocaine and heroin consumed by the entire nation in a year is consumed by individu- als arrested in that year. Drug treatment has the potential for significantly reducing the nation’s demand for illegal drugs.
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