Drug Treatment vs. Punishment

An increasing number of inmates are addicted to drugs or alcohol. Each municipality is different, but the growing trend is that the vast majority of criminal cases in this country are connected to drugs or alcohol.

In Somerset County, Pennsylvania, nearly 77 percent of the cases presented in court are clearly alcohol and/or drug-related alleged crimes.

The Cost of Punishing Drug Offenders

The high rate of drug-related crimes causes difficulty for law enforcement and the justice system overall.

“Drug and alcohol use and abuse with regard to criminal justice puts a tremendous financial burden on law enforcement,” said Somerset County District Attorney Lazzari-Strasiser. “Due to the evolving nature of synthetic drugs and how controlled substances are ingested, constant training and education of law enforcement is required.”

Law enforcement and correctional officers must be aware of how different substances can affect inmates, and be on the lookout for inmates finding ways to smuggle substances into prison. Inmates who arrive high or drunk pose a problem with safety and must be dealt with accordingly.

Not only do inmates who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol overrun today’s justice system and correctional facilities, but many of these individuals are repeat offenders. They may do their time, but when they are released, they go right back to their life of drugs.

This results in cities investing a large amount of money in the process and gaining nothing from it in the long run.

The Benefits of Treating Drug Offenders

More effective than simply incarcerating a drug addict or alcoholic is providing them with the treatment needed to get clean. Individuals who receive rehab learn that there is more to life than drugs.

Drug treatment is the only way to stop the cycle many have found themselves in. It might be more costly up front, but it will save cities and states millions over the years to stop the cycle.

Treatment is much more effective than prosecution because it gives a person the tools needed to live a drug-free life.