Illegal Drugs: Prison vs. Drug Treatment

The possession or sale of illegal drugs sends so many people to prison each year. America incarcerates more people than any other Western Nation. In fact, I think the statistics show that our incarceration rate in America is equal to that of countries like China, Libya, and Saudi Arabia. For a hundred years America has been fighting the drug problem. Since the 1980’s the United States Government declared war on the drug problem and by that declared war on its own people. The Great War on Drugs has been a failure. There needs to be a new approach that places more focus drug treatment.

In many of the Court Districts across Mississippi they already use drug courts. I believe the statistics prove they are working. Every District needs a drug court and people charged with possession should be diverted through the program instead of being sentenced to prison. I would go so far as to say that there are many people who sell small amounts of drugs should also be sent through the drug court program. Many of the men and women who sell small amount of drugs are also heavy users and need the help. Even if you disagree, think about this from an economic standpoint. The cost of drug treatment for small sellers is going to be less over the long run than the 20-30 year sentences that I often see given to small sellers.

I am not advocating the legalization of drugs. I am suggesting the decriminalization of our laws with a focus on the health care side of the drug problem. There still needs to be law enforcement actively working in the field, but their focus needs to be entirely different. Our goal as a society should be to help people develop and focus their lives back in a socially acceptable manner. Prison is a poor alternative to the development of good behavior. Until we change our focus this country is going to lead the Western Civilized nations in failure.

Merrida Coxwell is an attorney with 29 years of legal experience helping people who are charged with crimes and who have been involved in serious accident and injury cases. Merrida has handles hundreds of criminal cases ranging from misdemeanor to serious, complex felonies.

Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.

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