Pubdate: Tue, 24 Dec 2002
Source: Oklahoman, The (OK)
Copyright: 2002 The Oklahoma Publishing Co.
Author: Jim Russell


To The Editor:

For months now, the news media has kept Oklahomans informed of the budget 
shortfalls. I thank state Rep. Fred Morgan ("Point of View," Dec. 15) for 
his clarification of the foremost contributor to this shortfall -- 
Oklahoma's policy toward the disease of alcohol and drug addiction. Rather 
than deal with the "cause of the problem," Morgan promotes building new 
prisons and making Oklahoma taxpayers pay for it. Arizona Gov. Dirk 
Kempthorne said it best: "I have to address drug policy issues because if I 
don't, the budget will be eaten up by incarceration costs, and I won't be 
able to fund my other priorities such as schools and health care."

Every dollar spent on treatment will save Oklahoma taxpayers roughly $7 in 
related taxes. Thousands of productive Oklahomans recovering from alcohol 
and drug addiction are now paying taxes because they went to treatment, not 

I seriously question Morgan's expertise on "prudent policy." As a 
recovering alcoholic and former legislator, I consider myself well-informed 
on the subject. I'd rather see "my valuable tax dollars" used in a 
proactive manner.

Let's do something about the cause of people going to prison and free up 
millions of dollars for education and health care. Jim Russell, Norman 
Russell is founder of Oklahoma Faces & Voices of Recovery, which seeks to 
increase treatment options for alcohol and drug addictions.
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