Pubdate: Thu, 10 May 2001
Source: Miami New Times (FL)
Copyright: 2001 New Times, Inc.
Author: Monique Taylor
Bookmark: (Treatment)
Bookmark: (Incarceration)


It's broken, so let's fix it: Thanks to Kathy Glasgow for a 
well-researched and well-written article about the lack of 
substance-abuse recovery programs in our jails ("My Name Is Victor, 
and I'm a Jail Bird," April 5). Most of us law-abiding citizens 
choose to distance ourselves from the world of crime and punishment. 
We know little about what happens after someone has been led away in 

Over the years I have known a number of substance abusers -- 
alcoholics and addicts, some active, some recovering. Almost all were 
incarcerated during their active addiction, be it for committing 
crimes against others or for victimizing themselves by using illegal 
drugs. The vast majority, if not all successful recovering drug 
addicts and alcoholics I know, are active members of Alcoholics 
Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA).

These twelve-step programs are recognized as being the most 
successful at taming the monster of addiction and helping its victims 
become productive, upstanding citizens able to live rewarding lives. 
And attending these meetings does not cost a nickel; they are 
absolutely free.

Although I am sure some staff members at the Miami-Dade Department of 
Corrections and Rehabilitation are concerned and caring individuals, 
the agency itself doesn't seem much concerned with the rehabilitation 
part of its title. Not only should AA and NA volunteers be welcome 
and encouraged to share their experiences and their time with their 
fellow human beings behind bars, all inmates whose transgressions are 
directly or indirectly linked to addiction should be mandated to 
attend these meetings.

The present recidivism rate alone tells us that what we are doing 
simply is not working. We need to change it, we need reforms, we need 
to treat the cause rather than the symptoms. It is time for all of us 
who are shedding the tears, suffering emotional distress, and 
carrying the enormous financial burden created by addiction and crime 
to step forward. It is time to contact our legislators, to call, 
write, petition, and demand positive reforms of our penal system. The 
focus must be on rehabilitation rather than on incarceration. It can 
be done and only we can do it.

Monique Taylor
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