American drug abusers should say thank you that they are not in the Philippines where tolerance is much lower and rehabilitation is voluntary on sentence of death.
While addiction is best treated voluntarily, there are many instances of drug-related crimes that the court deals with as part of their sentencing process. Depending on the severity of the crime, some punishments are alleviated by conditions that the accused “volunteers” to enter a rehab process. With more severe cases, treatment is given in the penitentiary. Access to drugs in confinement is limited but not absolute, so offenders can maintain their addiction while in jail. Against this scene is the inability for drug abusers to access quality rehab services while in jail. There is evidence that many have sought out rehab in jail, this request is usually reached through requesting a court order. Again, this issue is dependent on the offense and criminal in question.
Out of the 7.1 million incarcerated US criminals, just over 50% (3.55 million) are drug abusers and addicts. One of the biggest concerns of the criminal system is lowering recurrence of crimes from released inmates, where the incarceration process should be used as a process for re-education and introduction back into society. However, treatment of drug abuse is a major issue that is not yet fully appreciated by all states and criminal justice systems. The consensus is that by not treating incarcerated offenders, giving them the opportunity to recover is a bad use of the time that offender is under state authority. In fact, ignoring treatment is accepting the fact that the inmate will return to their old drug infested societies, where the triggers will continue to fuel their addiction and activities.
The statistics prove that by ignoring drug abuse issues while under state supervision leads to re-incarceration within three years of release, which costs the taxpayer more money but more importantly releases a convicted addict, with all the dangers involved, back into society. Evidence from research also shows us that the craving to return to drug abuse grows with every detox that is not supported by treatment. In other words, while a prisoner might not have access or full access to the substances they abuse, the detox will only inhibit their use in jail. Once released, the psychological cravings will be a dodger, leading to a more excessive craving for substance usage.
Research into the cost of incarceration versus treatment shows that the average monthly prison cost is $22,000 while a monthly regulate dosage of methadone is $4,000. This finding does not factor in the costs of damage a drug addict has on society as well as the psychological impact it has on families and society.
There are a number of alternatives that the state can include in sentencing, such as relating the drug rehabs process to the type of criminal. Rehab can be built into federal and state penitentiaries without changing the infrastructure. Drug courts save on a ratio of $4 in incarceration costs compared to $1 in treatment costs.
Access to Treatment
The biggest issue facing inmates is an incomplete treatment or no treatment at all. Where some do get drug education, which is important only if it is part of a comprehensive treatment plan. Access to full rehab in jail is low, in fact, it is below 10%, which means that out of 3.55 million incarcerated drug abusers, less than 350 thousand gain access to rehabilitation programs.
The US prison systems is split between state and federal. Federal prisons should be upgraded to include full rehab services. This is government controlled and will provide the harder criminals with a chance to recover part of their destructive lives. State prisons require that each state agree to recognize the need to provide rehabilitation to their inmates. Unfortunately, as for now, the only way this will happen is if rehab will be considered a financially viable solution.