Many States Reconsidering Their Spend on Fighting Drugs

Almost every state government has budget problems. That means every state is looking for ways to save money and eliminate unnecessary spending. Atlanta criminal defense attorneys are interested to see that many states are looking seriously at the money spent on the “war on drugs,” and finding that the money is not well spent.

Instead of a $600 million prison-expansion plan in 2007, Texas opted for a $241 million plan to expand its community-based drug and alcohol treatment services. By 2009 they were seeing results. The prison inmate population declined.

In Michigan, eight prisons were closed. The government invested the savings in an expanded network of drug, mental health and job training services for ex-offenders. Kansas also closed prisons after investing in drug treatment programs and services for parolees.

At least ten states have switched from the rather mindless mantra of “tough on crime” to the more compassionate wisdom of “smart on drugs.”

The population of the U.S. makes up less than 5 percent of the world’s population, it consumes 66 percent of the world’s illegal drugs, and it incarcerates…

25 percent of the world’s prisoners.

Governments are finding that without drug and alcohol treatment, recidivism is very high. A 1998 Rand Corporation study found that quality substance abuse treatment versus imprisonment is three times less expensive.

Drug abuse should no longer be viewed merely as a public safety problem leading to crime, but must be understood as a public health problem dealing with lives.

In 2005, Federal, state and local governments spent $74 billion prosecuting and imprisoning drug and alcohol offenders. They spent less than 1 percent of that amount – $632 million – on prevention and treatment. Upping the treatment number a little could bring the incarceration number down, quite a bit.

Source: SperoNews “Getting smart about drugs and alcohol” August 2010