Incarceration or rehabilitation? This is the debate that citizens and policymakers alike have been increasingly grappling with in recent years. National attitudes turning against the harshness of “War on Drugs” policies as the country’s prison population continues to swell, and people are looking for alternatives to long sentences for minor offenders. The drug crime defense attorneys at Broward Criminal Lawyer believe that the legal system should lean towards rehabilitation with substance abuse issues instead of simply locking them away. Here are our reasons why.
Rehabilitation Costs Taxpayers Less
To begin from a purely practical standpoint, every prisoner in the American penal system must be fed and cared for, which costs taxpayers money. It stands to reason that more taxpayer money has to go towards this when there are more prisoners, and that is only further multiplied depending on how long prisoners must stay behind bars.
That makes it all the more troubling that according to a 2018 analysis of census data by the Prison Policy Initiative, the United States has the highest population of incarcerated people per capita on the planet. More than 2.3 million residents are currently detained. In addition to this being a distinction that many are not proud to hold, this is a severe strain on taxpayers.
Thankfully, there is a healthy way to lower the prison population, and it rests in another statistic: about a fifth of all prisoners in the US are behind bars for drug offenses. Many of these people have convictions for possession, which is less serious than trafficking or violent drug-related offenses. Moreover, an overwhelmingly large number of them have not even been convicted; they are under “pre-trial detention.” Rehabilitation can help to lower these numbers.
Rehabilitation Prevents Reincarceration
It can be argued that court-ordered rehabilitation may not be much of a financial improvement over incarceration because this would also cost taxpayers money. However, it could actually save them – and the penal system – plenty of money in the long run because rehabilitation prevents people from being incarcerated again in the future.
The catch about drugs is that they can be a factor in crimes beyond possession, distribution, and manufacturing. Some addicts commit crimes because of their dependence – for example, robbing someone at gunpoint to purchase more drugs. If that person is sentenced to imprisonment for the mugging but not treated for the substance abuse problem that caused them to commit that crime, then they are likely to return to prison later on.
When someone commits a crime while in the throes of addiction, rehabilitation is needed more than anything. Drug addiction is a disease, one that predates on people and pushes them to act in ways they would not behave otherwise. While it is true that consuming these illegal substances begins as a choice, it eventually devolves into a psychological and biological need that can prove much more difficult to break than simply wanting to stop. The ability to really choose disappears at some point, which is when addiction takes hold and rehabilitation is most needed.
The main issue is that the legal system – on the local, state, and national level – have long treated and continue to treat all drug abuse not as a disease but as a vice, one carried out exclusively with malevolent intentions and one that must, therefore, be stamped out. A 2012 study found that half of all state prisoners have issues with addiction, but only a tenth of them actually receive help. This method does not address the root of the problem – it merely punishes people for the symptoms.
Broward Criminal Lawyer Fights For Rehabilitation
In light of all this, it is getting increasingly difficult to justify incarceration as the best option, let alone the only feasible option. Instead of immediately swerving toward that option, the legal system should be more inclined to assess people for signs of dependency and refer them to rehab for court-ordered treatment. In our view, this is not only the most practical solution to a variety of problems with the prison system but the most humane way to act with regard to those who are afflicted with addiction issues. Choosing rehabilitation over incarceration can only serve to improve society.
People caught and convicted of drug offenses would almost certainly prefer to be welcomed at treatment centers than to be locked behind bars. The experienced drug crime attorneys at Michael A. Gottlieb Broward Criminal Lawyers fight for people’s rights to receive help for their problems instead of confinement. When it comes to the question of incarceration or rehabilitation, we will always choose to fight for court-ordered treatment over life-ruining punishment. Get in touch with us today at (954) 462-1005.