cannabisnews.com: In-Prison Drug Programs Should Be Expanded





In-Prison Drug Programs Should Be Expanded
Posted by FoM on June 06, 2000 at 08:40:07 PT
By Barry R. McCaffrey
Source: San Francisco Chronicle
Drug-Dependent individuals are responsible for a disproportionately large percentage of violent crimes and property offenses, committing about half of all felonies in big U.S. cities. According to the National Institute of Justice's Arrestee and Drug Abuse Monitoring report, roughly two-thirds of adults and more than half of juveniles arrested test positive for at least one illicit drug. 
A third of state prisoners and about 1 in 5 federal inmates said they committed their offenses while under the influence of drugs. Many of them turned to crime for money to support expensive drug habits. Three-quarters of chronic cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine users are arrested in the course of any given year, and only a quarter of these people received drug treatment in the past. Most return to drugs as soon as they complete their prison terms. In turn, drug abusers constitute half the people on probation and parole in America. Throughout the United States, 2 million arrested drug users a year require treatment to extricate themselves from lives of crime that keep them from being productive members of society. Because so many drug addicts become involved with the criminal justice system -- and take up a significant portion of America's law-enforcement and corrections budget -- prisons are a natural place to offer drug treatment. Studies prove that when people are forced into therapy, results are positive. Unfortunately, only a small proportion of inmates requesting drug treatment currently are helped. Without effective intervention, we are merely postponing the time when prisoners return to drugs and crime. Research indicates that therapy lasting longer than 90 days is much more likely to reduce drug use and crime. Follow-up is also important. An evaluation conducted by Dr. James Inciardi, editor of American Drug Scene and author of many books on drugs and prisons, demonstrated that prisoners who participated in transitional work-release programs after drug treatment were twice as likely to remain drug-free and a third more likely to be arrest-free 18 months after release, compared to in mates who received no such supervision. These findings need to be given careful attention at a time when probation and other intermediate measures are being eliminated. Drug treatment coupled with various forms of rehabilitation, such as literacy and job training, yields the best results. Dr. Alan Leshner, director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse, has made extraordinary contributions to the scientific understanding of substance abuse as a brain disease. Although there is a sociological context for drug use, biological aspects of addiction must be corrected as well as behavioral dimensions of the problem. In other words, addicts need medical help getting off the drugs that have changed the chemistry of their brains. Jeremy Travis, former director of the National Institute of Justice, argues for drug treatment as an aspect of ``risk management.'' Simply put, treatment reduces the risk that inmates will become repeat offenders. The increase in spending for prisons has accelerated at a breakneck pace. From 1980 to 1996, the number of people in U.S. prisons tripled, largely due to drug and alcohol abuse. The cost to taxpayers of keeping a person in jail is about $25,000 a year. Treatment costs are very little by comparison. Experience has shown that we can't arrest our way out of the drug problem. Today, 700 drug courts have been instituted or are in the planning stages throughout the United States -- up from the dozen that existed in 1994. These courts offer drug treatment as an alternative to incarceration for nonviolent offenders. Defendants who complete the drug-court program either have their charges dismissed or sentences reduced. More than 100,000 people have been diverted to drug courts, which save money and lives. But drug courts and other diversionary programs for drug treatment currently reach only 3 percent of the criminal justice population. In the interest of public safety as well as humane and effective correctional policy, drug courts, drug-free prisons and drug treatment for lawbreakers should be expanded. Ultimately, such programs will reduce overall drug abuse in America. Barry R. McCaffrey is the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Tuesday, June 6, 2000 2000 San Francisco Chronicle  Page A23 Related Articles:Nation's Drug Czar Blasts State Initiativehttp://cannabisnews.com/news/thread5937.shtmlCourt Officials Lambaste Drug Treatment Initiativehttp://cannabisnews.com/news/thread5933.shtmlPush For Treatment vs. Jail Makes Ballot http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread5917.shtmlCannabisNews McCaffrey Related Articles:http://cannabisnews.com/news/list/McCaffrey.shtml
END SNIP -->
Snipped
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help




Comment #5 posted by Tim Stone on June 07, 2000 at 15:15:20 PT
Barry Bilge
Just so we all understand the context of this Barry bilge:It's from a major California newspaper. California I believe will have a proposition/initiative on the Nov. ballot to medicalize the "drug" issue as far as possible. Barry is flogging this "drugs cause crime" crap in response to that ballot measure. Barry is much more scared of the medicalize-drugs ballot measure than he was of the med-pot one. If Barry can't defeat the CA. medicalize-drugs measure, the jig's up and it's just a matter of time before Barry's lovely little moral vendetta goes tits up, and barry knows it. 
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #4 posted by MikeEEEEE on June 06, 2000 at 18:27:01 PT
Gen. McClownFreak
I stopped listening to this clown a long time ago. It's obvious this guy is using the compasionate treatment stance in a weasel kind of way to relate drugs and crime. We all know it's the policy of prohabition that's at the root of the problem.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #3 posted by Dave in Florida on June 06, 2000 at 10:14:04 PT
Prohibition -IS- the Cause
>Throughout the United States, 2 million arrested drug users a year require treatment to extricate themselves from lives of crime that keep them from being productive members of society. If they were not arrested for drug possion they would not be criminals. 70% of all drug users are responible productive members of socity anyway. People don't need treatment to stop them from commiting crimes. They need low cost drugs !
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #2 posted by Dan Butterworth on June 06, 2000 at 10:07:12 PT:
McCaffrey's "Logic" (or lack thereof)
Before I begin analyzing the "finer" points of this article, let me first point out the obvious: it was written by Barry McCaffrey, America's reigning drug czar, so it must be understood as propaganda in defense of his continued war on drug users.McCaffrey begins by asserting that "Drug-Dependent individuals are responsible for a disproportionately large percentage of violent crimes and property offenses," an obvious attempt to show that drug offenders are violent people in need of incarceration. What does he use as evidence for this statement? McCaffrey shows us that drug offenders commit "half of all felonies in big U.S. cities," and that "roughly two-thirds of adults and more than half of juveniles arrested test positive for at least one illicit drug." Let's look at this logic for a moment: Drug use is, in itself, a felony in this country. No other crime must be committed for an arrest to be made. Drug offenses make up about one half of all offenses for which people are imprisoned in America. McCaffrey applies statistics for all felonies to back up a statement about only violent and property offenses-a blatant distortion of the facts.McCaffrey goes on to say that "A third of state prisoners and about 1 in 5 federal inmates said they committed their offenses while under the influence of drugs." Amazing! Does he mean to suggest that people who are in prison for drug-related offenses were using drugs at the time they allegedly made these offenses? What a revelation! Notice, again, how he makes assertions that are simply not justified given the data he presents in this article: "Many of them turned to crime for money to support expensive drug habits." Once again, let's look at some more facts: If New York is a fair sampling of the rest of America, 74% of all drug-related murders are directly the result of illegal drug trade, while only 4% were related to an attempt to get money for drugs. (See the Canabis.com article linked at the botom of this message) The fact that certain drugs are illegal makes them a black market commodity, driving prices far above what many addicts can pay for drugs. Thus, the crimes committed to obtain money for illegal drugs are at least as much a result of the drug war as the drugs themselves. If most people who use drugs are also committing other crimes, why should we have the drug laws to begin with? Shouldn't we rely on the laws that are supposedly already capturing the bulk of all drug abusers, rather than targeting every American citizen who wants to toke up now and again? McCaffrey continues by saying that "Three-quarters of chronic cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine users are arrested in the course of any given year, and only a quarter of these people received drug treatment in the past." Fair enough. But what constitutes a "chronic user," and how does he arrive at these statistics? Furthermore, by his own admission "most return to drugs as soon as they complete their prison terms," which seems to counter his later argument that "studies prove that when people are forced into therapy, results are positive." Which studies are referred to here, by the way? And are results always positive? How does McCaffrey define "positive"? If 5% stop taking drugs, does that justify sending the other 95% into forced "therapy" in prison? I agree with the statement about work-release programs working better than no programs at all, but don't these statistics really show how prison time affects one's ability to obtain employment? It makes sense convicted drug offenders who are not given jobs might have a tendency to fall into despair and return to drugs; they are permanently labeled as felons. Has Barry McCaffrey ever applied for a job? Does he not realize that one of the first questions asked is "Have you ever been convicted of a felony?" The research he refers to here reflects not only the good that is done when people are given the opportunity to work, but the harm that is done in the first place by targeting non-violent drug users, putting them in prison, then releasing them with little chance of finding decent employment. Ultimately, I agree with McCaffrey that treatment is the key to helping those who are truly addicted to drugs. However, I differ with him in that I do not believe prison is an acceptable means by which to force people into treatment. I have a background in psychology (B.A., two years of graduate-level training), and I can tell you from experience that forcing people into treatment does not, by and large, work. More questions that McCaffrey needs to address: How does he define "treatment"? Where is the proof that marijuana, for example, changed the chemistry of one's brain? Are these changes permanent?  Because drugs like marijuana are illegal, people are compelled to seek out alternative means of intoxication. Some of these means, like alcohol and inhalants, are far more dangerous than the drugs that are currently illegal (until it is illegal to buy paint thinner or rubber cement, inhalants will be legal). How does Barry McCaffrey justify placing people in jail for drug offenses at all, given that the number one and number two killers of Americans (tobacco and alcohol) remain legal. I could go on, but I think I have made my point. McCaffrey's plan may be a small step in the right direction, but it is a far cry from restoring justice to the American way of life. It will do little to provide more "humane and effective correctional policy" because it retains prison as the first option for drug offenses. Unless we begin to treat drug addicts as human beings in need of help, and unless we begin to recognize the difference between casual, intermittent drug use and drug abuse, Americans will continue to be railroaded into prison for making personal decisions, and American citizens will not truly be free to exercise the right to "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." 
Our War on Drugs is the Direct Cause of Almost Half of All Murders in the U.S.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #1 posted by CD1 on June 06, 2000 at 09:38:50 PT
I Wonder
I wonder how many of these felonies are the result of Marijuana Prohibition. How many of these felonies are the drug arrests themselves? How many of these felonies are the result of "turf wars" among gangs and drug dealers battling to supply users, (which would be eliminated if marijuana prohibition was repealed)? I'm sure if this report was written in the 1920's, the same argument could have been made about alchohol. (I'm pretty sure that most felonies committed NOW could be said to be "alchohol related".) Once again, General McCaffrey is clouding the issue, and trying to justify his job. I especially like the statement that "A third of state prisoners and 1 in 5 federal inmates said they committed their offenses while under the influence of drugs." NO KIDDING!!! As we all know, more than HALF of prisoners in the U.S. are not in prison for violent crimes like murder, rape or robbery, but for drug offenses. And most of these are for possession. Good try, General, but I'm not buying your argument.
[ Post Comment ]

Post Comment


Name: Optional Password: 
E-Mail: 
Subject: 
Comment: [Please refrain from using profanity in your message]
Link URL: 
Link Title: