Pubdate: Fri, 18 Feb 2000
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI)
Copyright: 2000, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Contact:  414-224-8280
Author: Lester E. Schultz


The Journal Sentinel ran a front-page article on Feb. 14 titled "Few
convicts get treatment for addictions." Is that supposed to be a new insight?

Treatment for addictions, like recreational activities and education, are
considered too soft a way of punishing law-breakers in today's draconian,
vengeful society.

Having served as a member of the board of directors and as president of
programs designed to help offenders in Wisconsin and Washington, D.C., I
know something about the needless, horrendous cost to local, state and
national taxpayers when we do not offer good, proper treatment for convicts
who are addicted to drugs and alcohol.

If no treatment is given properly, you can rest assured that each offender
will be back in prison soon, and the cost to taxpayers will go on and on.

Without proper treatment, I have seen such offenders come out of
conventional prisons with a swagger and an aim to return to the same
neighborhood and to the same life of addiction and crime. Given good
addiction therapy, I have seen this swagger slowly disappear and a fresh
aim in life develop.

Why don't we use an enlightened, successful approach to treating addicted
offenders when we know from objective statistics that this will often stop
the return to prison - and thus save taxpayers billions of dollars?

Because the people who make the laws in cities, counties, states and
Washington campaign to get elected on the most expensive platform in the
world: Lock 'em up, and throw away the key.

Lester E. Schultz, Glendale
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