Capstone Project: Drug Rehabilitation vs. Imprisonment for Non-Violent Drug Users

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REHABILITATION V. IMPRISONMENT

Why Rehabilitation Is Favored Over Imprisonment

When an offender is convicted of a non-violent drug offense the decision on whether to incarcerate the offender or rehabilitate the offender will often arise. Rehabilitation is the favored sanction for a non-violent offender and the benefits of rehabilitation outweigh the benefits of incarceration. While the combined cost of rehabilitation has been estimated to be higher than those of incarceration, an offender will be required to contribute to the cost. On the other hand, an offender who is incarcerated will not make any significant monetary contribution to the cost and as a result the cost will remain entirely the burden of the government and the taxpayers. Prison overcrowding has been a problem on the system for years, and while there are other viable options available prison has become the generic option for sentencing an offender. The United States has the highest rate of incarceration in the world in light of the fact that it has a complex and varied corrections system. Incarceration of a non-violent drug offender fails to benefit the offender and the community in the way that rehabilitation will. The benefits of rehabilitation include it lowers costs, it permits the offender to maintain family bonds, it addresses the mental and emotional issues of the offender, it reduces prison overcrowding, it enables the offender to maintain positive contact with the community, it increases the offender's ability to support the economy, and it offsets arbitrary prison sentences based on race. The purpose of this report is to establish why rehabilitation is favored over imprisonment.

Imprisonment v. Rehabilitation for Non-Violent Drug Offenders

According to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report there were 1,663,582 arrests for drug offenses. FBI Uniform Crime Report (2009).

An ongoing debate among professionals and the community that has existed for years is what to do with those offenders that are convicted of these drug offenses -- whether to imprison non-violent drug offenders or to require them to enter into drug rehabilitation. Strong arguments exist on both sides. Some considerations to take into account at sentencing are the cost that is involved, the safety of the community, and the success of drug rehabilitation on the offender. In light of these considerations and others that will be discussed, offenders that qualify for drug rehabilitation should be given this option.

Drug Rehabilitation Is More Cost Effective

The cost of incarcerating a single person in federal prison is approximately it costs $48.15 per day, or $17,575 annually, to house an inmate per year. Florida Department of Corrections (2010).

Compared with this cost, the cost of an individual completing drug rehabilitation for a year can range from $7,500 to $75,000 per month according to the National Substance Abuse Treatment Services Survey; however the average cost per day was approximately $35,000 for a 90 day program. National Substance Abuse Services Survey (2010).

Considering these numbers, imprisonment advocates will argue that the cost of imprisonment is much lower than rehabilitation and is more cost effective. However, when an offender is placed in rehabilitation for an offense, they are placed on probation with rehabilitation as a condition of the probation. When the daily cost between federal probation, community corrections, and jail/prison are compared, federal probation is considerably less. For example, federal probation -- $9.46 per day, community corrections -- $55.07 per day, jail/prison -- $63.57 per day. Alarid, Cromwell, DelCarmen (2008).

Also, consider is the fact that imprisonment is funded by the tax payers and the government while many drug rehabilitation programs are funded by the individual. Because the burden of the corrections procedure will not be placed solely on the government or the taxpayer and the offender could be responsible for financing his rehabilitation, rehabilitation is more cost effective. If the offender is held responsible for financing his rehabilitation it will also assist him in taking responsibility for his actions and will likely obtain a greater benefit from it. Because the offender will not be required to make financial contributions, she is more likely to take the experience for granted and return to the community at the end of their sentence not having obtained as great a benefit as they would have if they were required to contribute financially.

Cost is extremely important in deciding whether to incarcerate an offender or whether to enter them into rehabilitation. Although some rehabilitation programs are costlier per year that incarceration for a year, the offender is oftentimes required to make financial contributions to the rehabilitation program while imprisonment is funded primarily by the government and the taxpayers. It is not feasible to require the government to completely bear the burden of a drug offender's corrections procedure if there are other options such as rehabilitation.

Reduction in Crime

Requiring an offender to complete drug rehabilitation will also lead to a reduction in overall crime. This is because if a drug treatment problem is corrected the offender less likely to commit offenses because of being under the influence of drugs. These are called drug related offenses. According to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), a drug related offense is an "Offense to which a drug's pharmacologic effects contribute; offenses motivated by the user's need for money to support continued use; and offenses connected to drug distribution itself." ONDCP (2006).

Many offenders in prison for other offenses such as robbery or burglary are also drug users. Statistics show that drug offenders often resort to petty crimes such as petit theft and to gain money to support their drug habit. Additionally, public order offenses such as prostitution are also related to drug abuse. According to Dr. Dana Hunt, between 49% and 87% of all arrestees in 10 U.S. cities tested positive for drugs in 2008. Hunt (2009). The following graph provides a breakdown of this trend.

Percent Testing Positive for Any Drug in 2007 and 2008.

Atlanta

Charlotte

Wash. DC

New York

Portland

Minneapolis

Sacramento

Chicago

Indianapolis

Denver

2007

67%

69%

69%

69%

72%

65%

78%

86%

65%

71%

2008

60%

69%

59%

69%

65%

65%

77%

86%

63%

68%

From ADAM II, 2008 Annual Report, Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Program II

This chart demonstrates that in each of the 10 cities studied, there were at least 59% of arrestees testing positive for any type of drug at the time of their arrest. Because of this one can presume that the crime was committed in part because the arrestee was under the influence of drugs. It follows that, once the drug offense is treated, a person who commits these offenses will be less likely to commit them if the offenses were committed to support the drug habit.

Incarceration proponents will argue that imprisonment for the drug offense will also result in a reduction in crime because the person will be required to serve time for their drug offense and the related crime and that while the offender is imprisoned, they will not be able to commit crimes. Those in opposition of drug rehabilitation will also argue that the process of requiring a person to sit in prison for their offense will reduce future occurrences of the offense because the person will be deterred from committing the offense.

While these arguments may be true and that an individual who is required to serve time incarcerated for his offense may be deterred, deterrence does not always occur. If a person is a repeat offender they are likely to be acclimated to the jail or prison culture and not likely to be deterred from the thought of being incarcerated. Also, if a person is incarcerated for their offense and does not receive treatment for the offense, the drug problem that could be at the root of the offense still exists after they have served their sentence. With this in mind, they are likely to return to the community and fall back into the same pattern of behavior -- committing crimes to support their habit. In this way, imprisonment is a short-term solution to a long-term problem and is not likely to reduce the incidence of crime.

Family Bonds and Family Support

Another argument in support of rehabilitation over incarceration for non-violent drug offenders is that rehabilitation increases family involvement, support, and interaction whereas incarceration limit's the offenders contact with his family. Research supports that if an offender has support from his family then he is more likely to complete any treatment or required corrections process. For example, as a part of a probationary period an offender may be required to attend counseling classes. The fact that the offender can still interact with his family and live in his regular home environment while attending the classes will increase the offender's likelihood of completing the classes and completing his treatment. When an offender is in prison, family contact is limited and this will affect an offender's ability maintain bonds with his family.

Another way that rehabilitation supports family bonds is that in the case that an offender has minor children it reduces the stigma on the child. A… [END OF PREVIEW]

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https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/drug-rehabilitation-imprisonment-non-violent/99437.