Is Drug Treatment A Viable Alternative To Prison Time?

1265 words - 5 pages

Prisons and county jails are extremely over populated, so over populated that in some jails inmates are sleeping on the floors. According to Senator Jeanne Shaheen (From Senator Jeanne Shaheen: Prison Overcrowding, 2011), the federal prisons are currently 35 percent over their capacity. The overcrowding is costing the criminal justice system and taxpayers more money to transfer inmates to other facilities and in lawsuits brought by inmates against the prisons. With the prisons and county jails facing major overcrowding issues and drug treatment programs being a viable alternative to prison time, more states need to be implementing drug / treatment programs. Treatment / Drug Courts are specialized courts to help stop drug, alcohol, and related criminal activity (U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration,2011). These courts closely monitor the participants in the treatment programs and if a participant fails to meet the minimum requirements set by the courts, immediate sanctions are imposed (U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, 2011). The main goal of Treatment / Drug Courts is to give the individual a second chance to receive the therapy that is a necessity to help break the drug or alcohol addiction, without going to prison. Utilizing drug treatment programs, as an alternative to prison time does not just benefit the individual in the programs it also relieves some of the overcrowding prisons and county jails, saves the criminal justice system and taxpayers money, helps lowers the recidivism rates, and benefits the family of the individual in the drug treatment program.
After many years of prison population increasing, the utilization of Treatment / Drug Courts in the United States has helped with the long awaited decline in prison population. For more than 150 years Wisconsin’s prison population continued to increase, finally the state of Wisconsin is able to report a sustained decline of seven percent in the state’s prison population from 2007 to 2010 (Hrodey, 2011). Some experts believe that the Drug / Treatment Courts and diversion programs utilizing alternatives to prison time is the reason for the decline in prison population. According to Judge Vito P. Geroulo (Schillinger, 2010), the national decline might be a sign that other areas are starting to use treatment courts… However, according to Todd Berry, president of the Wisconsin Taxpayer Alliance (Hrodey, 2011), the reduction of prison population may be due to changing demographics in Wisconsin. The changing demographics might be playing a role in the decreasing prison population in Wisconsin; on the other hand, this is not the only factor playing a role in the decrease. The U.S. Department of Justice is reporting the local government prison population has declined 2.3 percent from June 2008 to June 2009 (Schillinger, 2010). Therefore, prison population is decreasing in the United States as a whole, not just in one state.
In the United States today, there are many budget...

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