Pubdate: Sat, 14 Dec 2002
Source: Maui News, The (HI)
Contact:  2002 The Maui News
Author: Robert Sharpe,
Referenced: and
Bookmark: (Drug Courts)
Bookmark: (Treatment)


Maui is to be commended for introducing much-needed alternatives to
incarceration for nonviolent drug offenders (The Maui News, Dec. 9). With
violent crime continuing along a downward trend, the drug war is the
principal reason the United States now has the highest incarceration rate in
the world.

A study conducted by RAND, a nonprofit research and analysis institution,
found that every dollar invested in substance-abuse treatment saves
taxpayers $7.46 in societal costs. There is far more at stake than tax
dollars. The drug war is not the promoter of family values that some would
have us believe.

Children of inmates are at risk of educational failure, joblessness,
addiction and delinquency. Not only do the children lose out, but society as
a whole does too. Incarcerating nonviolent drug offenders alongside hardened
criminals is the equivalent of providing them with a taxpayer-funded
education in criminal behavior. 

Turning drug users into unemployable ex-cons is a senseless waste of tax
dollars. It's time to declare peace in the failed drug war and begin
treating all substance abuse, legal or otherwise, as the public health
problem it is. Destroying the futures and families of citizens who make
unhealthy choices doesn't benefit anyone. 

Robert Sharpe, Drug Policy Alliance

Washington, D.C.
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