Against Increasing Funding for Prison-Based Drug Addiction Treatment Term Paper

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Against Increasing Funding for Prison-Based Drug Addiction Treatment

There is an ongoing debate in the United States concerning the most effective and most appropriate treatment for those convicted of drug offenses in that it is the belief of some that funding should be increased for treating drug addiction in prisons however, the opposing argument holds that this is not the most appropriate manner of addressing drug addiction. This work intends to demonstrate that the costs of prison drug- addiction treatment, in monetary terms and in terms of the cost borne by society-at-large far exceed the benefits of prison-based drug-addiction treatment programs. Historically, alcohol addiction far exceeds the population of those addicted to drugs and yet it requires many convictions of driving while intoxicated to render a prison sentence upon the alcoholic while many low-level drug offenders are locked away to serve harsh prison terms.

ARGUMENTS and EVIDENCE in SUPPORT recent testimony by the Department of Justice before the United States Sentencing Commission is said to have made the claim that "approximately two-thirds of all federal prisoners are in prison for violent crimes or had a prior criminal record before being incarcerated." (the Sentencing Project, 2004) This figures have been conflated and the truth is that "overall, nearly three-fourths (72.1%) or federal prisoners are serving time for a non-violent offense and have no history of violence." (the Sentencing Project, 2004) the work of Clay (2006) entitled: Incarceration vs. Treatment: Drug Courts Help Substance Abusing Offenders" published in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration news journal in April 2006 states that: "Drug courts break the cycle by ensuring that the offenders receive substance abuse treatment which addresses the root causes of their crimes. Instead of sending offenders to jail or prison, judges send them to treatment. Close supervision, drug testing, and the use of sanctions and incentives help ensure that offenders stick with their treatment plans." Clay further relates the evidence rendered by a 2003 study by the Center for Court Innovation. This study made an analysis of the re-conviction rate of participants in New York's drug court system and states finding that for 2,135 defendants who participated in six of the drug courts in the state that re-conviction rates were 29% lower on the average for those who did not participate in the drug courts. The work of Shaffer, Bechtel and Latessa (2005) entitled: "Evaluation of Ohio's Drug Courts: A Cost Benefit Analysis" states findings that costs of Drug court total $1,446,221 as compared to criminal court costs of $32,743,410 which is the amount only required for criminal court processing and does not include the astronomical amount which it costs to house an inmate for the duration of a prison terms. report states further findings that: "Drug court participants did significantly better when compared to CBCF participants, halfway house participants and those placed on parole. Given the increased costs associated with these programs when compared to drug courts, it is possible to conclude that drug courts are most cost-effective..." (Shaffer, Bechtel and Latessa, 2005) the document entitled: "Drug Court Benefits" located online relates that research conducted in California reveals that there is a minimum savings of "$18 million" per year through use of drug courts as compared to imprisonment of drug offenders. A similar study "...based on the Center for Court Innovation's study of New York drug courts" relates an estimated $254 million saved in incarceration costs due to diversion of non-violent drug offenders into treatment programs instead of incarceration. (Drug Court Benefits, nd) Another problem that the justice system must critically address are the fallacies upon which many sentencing decisions are based. For example, presently that is a 100:1 ratio problem in crack-cocaine sentencing of offenders due to the erroneous belief that crack cocaine is a more powerful form of cocaine that is powder-cocaine. The truth is, that "Over time, numerous studies have shown the physiological and psychotropic effects of crack and powder are the same, and they are now widely acknowledged as pharmacologically identical. A 1996 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds analogous effects on the body for both crack cocaine and powder cocaine. (Coyle, 2002) in October, 2005 a report published in the 'New Scientist' reports that marijuana or THC, the chemical substance in marijuana has been found to grow new brain cells in mice. Barry Jacobs, a neuroscientist at Princeton University presented these findings to the Society for Neuroscience at a Washington DC meeting in November, 2005. (the New Scientist, 2005) the effect of THC on the brain duplicated the effects of Prozac on the brains of lab mice and while more research is needed the researchers in this study believe that marijuana is a possible effective treatment for depression in human subjects. The prison sentences being pronounced upon offenders in drug cases, most specifically in cases where the offender is an abuser of the drug and not someone who sells the drug are approaching insane in terms of treatment effectiveness, appropriate use of public funds, and in relation to the breakdown that prison terms for drug offenses is causing in society. For example the work of King and Mauer (2002) entitled: "Distorted Priorities: Drug Offenders in State Prisons" it is related that in the study conducted: "Of our sample of inmates, 61% had a job or business during the month before their arrest. Of those respondents who answered in the affirmative 78% (or 48% of the full sample) were employed full-time, with a median monthly income of approximately $1,050. This profile reports a startling different tale than common perceptions of drug offenders. Prior to their incarceration, drug offenders were for the most part employed, residing in private living quarters, and earning a wage." (King and Mauer, 2002) Incarceration results in interrupted employment, and "the removal of large numbers of fathers, mothers, siblings and neighbors from a community [which] serves to undercut that neighborhood's ability to exercise informal social control." (King and Mauer, 2002) Formation of policy is acknowledged widely to be greatly influenced by politics and economics and the case is no different since U.S. prisons have undergone structural organizational changes and have become privatized, meaning that they are privately own corporations. According to a Bureau of Justice Assistance, U.S. Department of Justice report entitled: "Emerging Issues on Privatized Prisons" published in 2001 there are currently 158 private correctional facilities operating in 30 states in the U.S. The report states: "Privatization is commonly defined as a contract process that shifts public functions, responsibilities, and capital assets, in whole or in part, from the public sector to the private sector." (U.S. Department of Justice, 2001) in other words, the prison system is now a for-profit corporation system, which needs, indeed must have prisoners in order to stay in business.

II. CRITICAL ANALYSIS of PROTEST AGAINST PRISON-BASED TREATMENT

A. STRONGEST POINT AGAINST the strongest point against prison-based treatment is the interruption of working, productive individuals, father and mothers, in fulfilling their daily responsibilities to their families, their employers and society-at-large, specifically when drug court or other treatment programs are readily available to assist these individuals in becoming drug-free. Drug court and other treatment programs have been found to be more effective, less costly, and more effective in the long-term than imprisonment for drug offenses. Since nearly 1/2 of drug offenders are employed full-time according to the literature in the foregoing review and many of these individuals do have children or are neighbors who care for children and positively contribute to society, imprisonment at a higher cost in monetary terms in addition to the other costs to society make prison sentences for drug offenses ludicrous placing a very large question mark above the 'intentions' of laws and policies that mandate prison sentences for drug offenses. Furthermore, privatization of prisons in the United States has turned prisons into a competitive business with quotas of prisoners needed to fill the capacity of these prisons so that prisons will receive funding for the prisoner's incarcerated to ensure their profits and incoming funds.

B. WEAKEST POINT

There does not, in the opinion of this researcher appear to be any specific 'weak' argument presented in support of alternative programs to prison sentencing for drug offenses.

III. CRITICAL ANALYSIS of OPPOSING GROUP'S POSITION

A. STRONGEST POINT

The strongest point presented in the debate of the group supporting prison sentences for drug offenders is the point that these individuals do need drug treatment.

B. WEAKEST POINT

The weakest point made by the group supporting prison sentences for drug offender is that imprisonment of these individuals put money back into the economy for this is a ludicrous and fallacious argument.

CONCLUSION

The conclusion of this work is that alternative sentencing for drug offenders, nearly 50% of whom are working and productive members of society, and many of which are mothers and fathers of children, is that alternative sentencing is the best choice with benefits that greatly over-ride any imagined benefits of the incarceration of drug offenders, particularly low-level drug offenders… [end of preview; READ MORE]

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Against Increasing Funding for Prison-Based Drug Addiction Treatment.  (2007, October 25).  Retrieved January 23, 2020, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/against-increasing-funding-prison-based/784464

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"Against Increasing Funding for Prison-Based Drug Addiction Treatment."  25 October 2007.  Web.  23 January 2020. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/against-increasing-funding-prison-based/784464>.

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"Against Increasing Funding for Prison-Based Drug Addiction Treatment."  Essaytown.com.  October 25, 2007.  Accessed January 23, 2020.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/against-increasing-funding-prison-based/784464.