Drugs and Alternative Sentencing for Non-Violent Offenses

Posted by Chris Morales on Thu, Oct 14, 2010 @ 11:01 AM

Sentences from criminal offenses have increased since the 1980's.

Last November, Californian voters refused to pass Prop. 5, a measure which could have saved the state millions of dollars by expanding treatment rather than incarcerating offenders.

Politicians have led the trend in promulgating "tough on crime" legislation and all too often offenders receive excessive sentences, which end up costing the taxpayers millions of dollars to incarcerate people who could instead be receiving treatment.

A significant percentage of the public feel that treatment for offenders is money wasted. I respect that opinion, but that is a false belief. Take for example the habitual drug user. Should we incarcerate people who use drugs or should we help them understand that they have a substance abuse problem? In my opinion it would cost less to money to put drug users in a treatment program rather than incarcerating them since it can cost about $70,000.00 or more to jail one person per year. No drug treatment program costs that much nor does it take much effort to support programs that already funded through donations (e.g., non-profits). In fact, treatment programs will likely help a drug user find gainful employment whereas prison or jail will only decrease the likelyhood that anyone will hire a person with a criminal history.

Tags: case dismissed, crack, felony, drugs, non-violent, bail, crime, sentencing