Addiction is a disease – increase treatment availability and decrease prison time

OK, so another article points out that our prisons are full of drug addicts.  We knew that already, but we are now lead to believe that many people are only sent there after multiple relapses.  I don’t have hard data to support this and neither does the Ohio Department of Correction.  Still, the article points out that judges: 1. don’t feel comfortable using their local treatment providers; or, 2. there are not enough beds available.

As a criminal defense attorney, I have personally witnessed both scenarios.  Some judges would like to try treatment indefinitely, if they only felt that there were safe treatment centers where drug use was not rampant.  Then there are other judges who would keep using treatment if they could find a bed for the defendant.

Of course, there are the recalcitrant and burned out judges who have just given up on treatment and maybe the disease concept itself, and immediately send the defendant to jail or prison.  Many times they have the erroneous assumption that defendants will get treatment while locked up, but it is rarely available.

We need to educate the judicial system of the benefits of treatment, get the legislature on board with more funding for treatment, and last but not least, educate the public that addicts are suffering from a disease.  Addicts are not morally bed people, they can’t stop once they get started.  We need to get started on helping them get well.

 

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