Who Else Is Fed Up With Drug Arrests?
The conversation is unending- and the jail cells are never full enough. We’ve heard the same debate again and again, “Don’t jail non-violent drug offenders,” and “Jail all the drug offenders!” But which perspective is correct? Who knows? What we do know is incarceration doesn’t work. Not for offenders, or society.
Addiction isn’t remedied behind bars- it required medical and psychiatric treatment to prevent recidivism. This nifty Global Incident Map will tell you every drug related arrest or seizure ever. You can filter through country, time, and substance involved. I have no qualms against arrests of drug dealers and smugglers, until I start to think about what their motivations and underlying situations placing them in things illicit.
Should those drug dealers and smugglers with substance use disorders go through the same rehabilitation programs? What about the violent ones? Of course! Addiction is a disease of the mind and body. Regardless of what happens to violent drug offenders and drug dealers, treatment must be included to remedy the illness.
I would imagine highly specialized programs would benefit this population, as opposed to “traditional” treatment which may not be as intensive. Coupling criminal justice with rehabilitation should be a staple around the nation- but sadly almost the opposite is true. Many perish in jail cells from withdrawal because personnel do not understand the significance of the symptoms and consequences.
Conversely, those imprisoned seldom receive the intensive care they need- despite numerous studies revealing treatment is less extensive and more effective than incarceration. So why haven’t we adjusted our methods of “containment” to remedy? Politics, mostly.
The stigma surrounding addiction and substance related crimes lugs the perennial connotation of irrefutable damnation. We are an unforgiving society, and it stifles our abilities to create the environments needed to make meaningful change in the communities we are so desperately attempting to protect.
But what about drug dealers who murder the competition and sell children and teenagers heroin that will ultimately kill them?
Those are the hard cases. Those people become the poster boys and girls of addiction and substance related crimes. As with anything, there are all shades of grey. Do I believe violent drug offenders should receive treatment? Undoubtedly.
Should they be free afterwards?
I’m glad I don’t have to make that decision.
Whatever the means we as a society and the judiciary system can provide we must create solutions for those who are ensnared in the legal system because of “possession” and like offences. We are single-handedly crippling our society to embrace condemnation instead of attempts of salvation.
Not every story is a happy one, but not every tragedy must end the same.
What’s your take on the great debate?
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About the Author
Alexandrea Holder is a South Florida native working toward double Master’s degrees in Psychology and English. She finds the psychological aspects of addiction and mental illness fascinating, as both are prevalent in her family’s history. When not researching and spreading addiction awareness, Alexandrea enjoys sparring, artistic pursuits, and admiring puppies online.