Pubdate: Tue, 23 Mar 2004
Source: Reporter, The (Fond du Lac, WI)
Copyright: 2004 Gannett Wisconsin Newspapers
Author: Robert Sharpe
Bookmark: (Incarceration)
Bookmark: (Treatment)


Wisconsin is not the only state grappling with overcrowded prisons. 
Throughout the nation, states facing budget shortfalls are pursuing 
alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent drug offenders. A study 
conducted by the RAND Corporation found that every dollar invested in 
substance abuse treatment saves taxpayers $7.48 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 

Incarcerating non-violent 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.

Reference for above-mentioned study: Rydell, C.P. & Everingham, S.S., 
Controlling Cocaine, Prepared for the Office of National Drug Control 
Policy and the United States Army (Santa Monica, CA: Drug Policy Research 
Center, RAND Corporation, 1994), p. 42.

Robert Sharpe, MPA, Policy Analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy, 
Washington D.C.
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