Pubdate: Fri, 28 Feb 2003
Source: Savannah Morning News (GA)
Copyright: 2003 Savannah Morning News
Author: Russell Billings
Bookmark: (Treatment)
Bookmark: (Incarceration)


The crime problem in Savannah is much like the weather: It gets talked 
about a lot. The drug problem in Savannah also gets talked about a lot, but 
drug treatment in Savannah and Chatham County gets talked about very little.

What also doesn't get talked about is the direct correlation between the 
lack of treatment facilities for drug abuse problems and the increase in 
crime of all types.

With a decrease in state funding and the Chatham County Commission 
disclaiming any responsibility for substance abuse and mental health 
problems by cutting off funding to agencies that provide treatment 
services, the crime problem will only get worse.

A short time ago, the city implemented a mixed-drink tax that could have 
been earmarked for substance abuse problems. That tax could be implemented 
county-wide and earmarked for treatment programs.

Our nation has squandered tens of billions of dollars on the war on drugs 
by just putting people in jail. We haven't spent 10 percent of all those 
funds on prevention, early intervention and treatment.

I read in the paper and see on television about meetings on the lack of 
more policemen on the street. I hear no demand for dealing with the root 
cause of crime.

A policeman on every corner will not solve the crime problem, nor will it 
solve the drug problem. As long as there is a demand for drugs people will 
get them.

Does that mean we don't need more police? No. It means that we need both. 
It is a proven fact that the criminal justice system can prove a strong 
incentive for a person to seek treatment. One example is Superior Court 
Judge James Bass Jr.'s drug court.

The crime meetings I hear about are filled with people blaming someone else 
for the crime problem. I suggest we take a look in the mirror. We get the 
kind of community we vote for.

We have elections coming up for Savannah mayor and aldermen and Chatham 
County Commission chairman. Maybe someone will step up who can think 
outside the box.

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