Pubdate: Mon, 01 Mar 2004
Source: Morning Call (PA)
Copyright: 2004 The Morning Call Inc.
Author: Dorothy M. Roth


Gov. Ed Rendell is a big disappointment to me. In a Feb. 22 article,
''Price of justice strains the budget,'' he asked state lawmakers to
boost prison spending to $1.37 billion, an increase of nearly 68
percent over a decade ago, while withholding funding increases for
drug and alcohol treatment, knowing that the latter is more
cost-effective than incarceration. And, while cutting human service
funding to the bone, he gallantly pranced into our area with the
magnanimous offer of $12 million for a sports stadium!

Special bouquets to The Morning Call for the Feb. 24 editorial on the
same subject. For years our politicians and administrators have been
told that drug and alcohol treatment at the county level could be a
big part of the alternative-to-prison sentencing.

Instead of listening to Alan Jennings or Robert Csandl, both experts
in their human-caring fields, the policy-makers chose to listen to the
prison leaders. It is time we called a halt to their mission.

We need our county executive to come out with a strong statement that
she supports rehabilitation over incarceration for non-violent youth.
She knows that 47 cents of every county dollar goes to the prison.
With the money saved, the county could open a much-needed
detoxification and drop-in center for youth who overdose, by giving
them the help they need before they become addicted and enter a life
of crime.

It is important that the public be educated to the difference between
non-violent offenders on drugs and violent criminals. Only the latter
should be incarcerated.

Dorothy M. Roth

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