Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Columbia University: Behind Bars II - Substance Abuse and America’s Prison Population


From the report:

"We in the United States, though only five percent of the world’s population, consume two-thirds of the world’s illegal drugs. We in the United States, though only five percent of the world’s population, incarcerate 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. It is no coincidence that of the 2.3 million inmates in U.S. prisons, 65 percent--1.5 million--meet the DSM-IV medical criteria for alcohol or other drug abuse and addiction. Another 20 percent--458,000--even though they don’t meet the DSMIV medical criteria for alcohol and other drug abuse and addiction nevertheless were substance involved; i.e., were under the influence of alcohol or other drugs at the time of their offense, stole money to buy drugs, are substance abusers, violated the alcohol or drug laws, or share some combination of these characteristics ...

The tragedy is that we know how to stop spinning this costly and inhumane revolving door. It starts with acknowledging the fact that addiction is a disease for which evidence-based prevention and treatment programs exist and that these programs can be administered effectively through the criminal justice system. Providing treatment and training to inmates and employing treatment based alternatives to incarceration through drug courts or prosecutors both saves taxpayer dollars and reduces crime ..."

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