The United States has 25% of the world’s inmates and only 5% of the world’s population. A major cause of our incarceration crisis lies in our approach to individuals with addictions.
85% of of the United States prison population have serious addiction issues. Drugs and alcohol addictions directly or indirectly have caused inmate’s offenses. The 2010 Columbia report revealed that drugs and alcohol in 2006 contributed to the following offenses:
- 78% of violent crimes
- 83% of property crimes
- 77% of public order, immigration or weapon offenses; and probation/parole violations
One of the sane voices during the last five years was Steven W. Tompkins, Sheriff of Suffolk County, Massachusetts. Sheriff Tompkins has devoted extensive resources in his jail to treat inmates for their addictions, but many upon release succumb to their demons and slide back into a life of crime to support their addictions.
In 2012, Gov. Christie of New Jersey helped pass bipartisan legislation mandating drug treatment instead of incarceration for non-violent offenders. He has made it clear that drug treatment and not jail sentences was the path for reduction of crime.
On the local level in New Jersey, in Hudson County, the Correctional Facility director Oscar Aviles, and former Gov. Jim McGreevey, started a holistic treatment plan for drug offenders. Hudson’s prison program has provided counseling, group therapy and education for addicted inmates.
We need to have effective drug and alcohol treatment programs in our jails and prisons, but also through out our local communities to treat addicted individuals before they have committed crimes and have become part of our shameful statistics.
By: Bradley Schwartz
Founder of prisonpath.com