The Drug Problem and the Current Justice System
The United States Correctional System is often challenged as to whether it wants to rehabilitate drug offenders or punish them, and because of this it mostly does neither. Even though drug abuse and drug trafficking are widely spread national issues, the mental, social, and economic costs of "healing" through incarceration are only making the "disease" worse. Never before have more prisoners been locked up on drug offenses than today. Mixed with the extremely high risks of today's prison environment, the concept of incarceration as punishment for drug offenders cannot be successful. Without the correct form of rehabilitation through treatment within Michigan's Correctional System, drug offender's chronic recidivism will continue.
Half of the ex-convicts on parole in Michigan wind up back in prison within two years. Michigan's prison population fluctuates between 49,500 and 50,000 annually, costing taxpayers roughly $1.4 billion (Michigan Corrections 11). That equates to one quarter of the state's budget alone. In 2004, over 6,000 offenders were incarcerated for drug offenses in Michigan (Macallair). A report by the Justice Policy Institute found that there was almost as many inmates imprisoned for drug offenses alone in 2002 as the entire United States prisoner population in 1980. For more than 25 years our nation's correctional system has only adapted to this unprecedented increase and have yet to take true rehabilitating action. If the cost of an inmate for a year of incarceration is approximately $28,000 (Drug War Facts), that means the State of Michigan currently spends more than $160 million dollars each year to put away drug offenders. Why doesn't this expensive attack on the war on drugs actually produce results?
The act of a person repeating undesirable behaviour after they have already experienced negative consequences for it is referred
to as recidivism (Reducing Offender Drug Use). According to the Department of Justice, studies of recidivism say that "the amount of time inmates serve in prison does not increase or decrease the likelihood of recidivism, whether recidivism is measured as parole revocation, re-arrest, reconviction, or return to prison"(United States National Institute of Justice 21). How much does this apply to drug abuse? A comprehensive study of addiction by John Keene was conducted with three groups of convicts being surveyed, each group at different phases of incarceration. The first group of 134 prisoners was questioned as to whether they were using drugs before they were incarcerated. Almost 74% admitted to using some type of drug before they were imprisoned. In the second group of 119 inmates, 75% were using drugs while incarcerated. This specifically proves that it is very common for an inmate to use drugs while in prison. This also portrays an administration that cannot trust its own employees because, somehow, drugs find a way into the hands of inmates...