Sunday, November 10, 2013

Is jail time helping or harming addicts?

 Even though I have presented ample evidence to support the fact that our drug policy would greatly benefit from less punishment and more compassion, some readers may still disagree. After all, many believe that the drug user is a dangerous criminal that should be locked away for their own safety and the safety of the public. Whether you are a first time offender caught with a joint or a heroin addict, you are treated with basically the same punishment, time in a prison filled with hardened criminals. 

 Over 40 years ago President Nixon implemented his federal “war on drugs” and yet use of many illegal as well was prescription drugs have stayed the same or in some cases rose. Instead of criminalizing drug users and damning them to a harsh prison sentence, we should try to help them get over their addictions. Drug use is on the rise and the only way it can be stopped is if we show a little care to those afflicted. Deeming drug addiction (both illegal and prescription drugs) a public health issue would shed light on those affected and perhaps make them more willing to seek out help when they need it or for somebody to seek out help for a friend or family member. The only thing we are accomplishing by throwing people in jail for drug offenses is giving them easy access to even more drugs. The prison systems are riddled with illegal drug users who don't stop once they are behind bars. A person thrown in jail for possession and use of marijuana may leave with a crack addiction. Instead of further harming those afflicted, we should seek out to help them. In the long run, a more caring attitude toward drug users will not only get them to stop but kepp them off the drug longer.