Pubdate: Fri, 23 Mar 2001
Source: Bucks County Courier Times (PA)
Copyright: 2001 Calkins Newspapers. Inc.
Address: 8400 Route 13, Levittown, PA
Author: Virginia Ingram


I recently was involved in a heated discussion during my psychology class: 
Why is the rate of imprisonment increasing?

One of the reasons is the crackdown on drug abuse. But what should we do 
with violators? Some have never committed a violent crime, yet these people 
are being housed with murderers and rapists.

To reduce our rate of imprisonment, we should educate them rather than lock 
them up. These people need help. We need to focus on putting nonviolent 
drug users into rehabs rather than jail. Some classmates argued that they 
have to want to help themselves in order to get help. I agree with that 
statement, but how do these people have a chance to help themselves if they 
are locked up?

It is possible that drug addicts will change their ways if given the 
opportunity - even if they are forced to take the opportunity. Halfway 
homes and rehab centers succeed in changing their views on life. They 
educate addicts about addiction, teach them how to make an honest living 
and help them establish values. Yes, doing hard time does scare some out of 
doing drugs but most of them are soon back in jail for the same offense.

I'd rather see my tax dollars go to a place that will try to help people 
rather then see them go to jail repeatedly and get very little professional 
help. Some people deserve a chance. After all, this is an illness and 
should be treated as such - unless other crimes are involved.

If we cannot bring these imprisoned people into rehabs, we at least need to 
bring the resources to them and show them that there are options to life. 
In the long run, fewer people returning to jail will mean fewer tax dollars 

Virginia Ingram Penndel
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