Pubdate: Tue, 03 Apr 2001
Source: Idaho Statesman, The (ID)
Copyright: 2001 The Idaho Statesman
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding the Idaho House Judiciary and Rules
Committee's endorsement of a bill that would extend drug courts to all
judicial districts: Drug courts are definitely a step in the right
direction, but they fail to acknowledge the manner in which law
enforcement discourages voluntary treatment.

In order for treatment to be truly effective, and not necessarily
preceded by an arrest, policymakers are going to have to tone down the
tough-on-drugs rhetoric. Driving illicit drug addiction underground
only compounds the problem. Would alcoholics seek treatment if doing
so were tantamount to confessing to criminal activity? Numerous
studies have found treatment far more cost-effective than
incarceration, yet voluntary drug treatment continues to be
under-funded and confounded by the prevailing zero tolerance approach
to illicit drugs. It's time to declare peace in the failed drug war
and start treating all substance abuse, legal or otherwise, as the
public health problem it is.

Robert Sharpe, M.P.A., program officer, The Lindesmith Center-Drug
Policy Foundation, Washington, D.C.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake