Pubdate: Fri, 23 Feb 2007
Source: Gainesville Sun, The (FL)
Copyright: 2007 The Gainesville Sun
Author: Robert Sharpe


In response to The Sun's editorial of Feb. 15 titled "Politics and 
prison": Florida is one of many states grappling with overcrowded 
prisons. Throughout the nation, states facing budget shortfalls are 
pursuing alternatives to incarceration for non-violent drug offenders.

A study conducted by the RAND Corporation found that every additional 
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, too.

Incarcerating non-violent drug offenders alongside hardened criminals 
is the equivalent of providing them with a taxpayer-funded education 
in anti-social 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, Policy analyst

Common Sense for Drug Policy,

Washington, D.C. 
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