No matter which way you slice the pie, prisons do not perform well in rehabilitating offenders. Programs are frequently punitive, and according to a report in the Washington Post, about 66 percent of prisoners, within three years of their release, commit crimes again. In many instances, the new crime is more serious than the one that previously landed an offender in prison. This is especially bad news for people in prison on drug crimes. However, rehab should be an option for many prisoners if addition to controlled substances is an issue, particularly if someone is facing drug charges.
Clarify the Purpose of Prisons
Over the years, the purpose of prisons seems to have become muddled. In 2016, many of the crimes people are arrested for occurred while the offender was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It is even more important to clarify that the purpose of prisons should be to separate violent and potentially violent offenders from society and work toward getting these folks on the right path. Drug crimes tend to not be violent, especially if they are defined by possession. People arrested for possession often do not have weapons on them nor do they have records of violence. It makes little sense to send nonviolent offenders to prison where they can be exposed to violent offenders and be influenced to become more violent in the future.
Boost the Bottom Line
The United States spends billions of dollars annually on its prisons; staggering sums of money also go toward drug courts and drug-focused police. Rehab means fewer reoffenders; that alone saved $4 for every $1 spent in the experimental Resolve to Stop the Violence Project in San Francisco.
Focus on Rehab
Rather than come down so hard on people facing drug charges, rehab programs should be an option. One approach is through education or re-education. Another is through therapeutic communities similar to residential homes. Whether a resident (formerly called a prisoner) needs help for alcoholics, cocaine addiction or another type of addiction, he or she would be presented with drug intervention programs in NJ. Basic needs such as quality nutrition and medical care could be partially financed by the judicial budgets currently going to jail systems. Mental stimulation would occur through courses taught on all learning levels. The evidence speaks for itself; prison college programs succeed where so many others fail in preventing inmates from reoffending after they are released.
Avoid Punishment for the Sake of Punishment
Research as well as simple anecdotal evidence shows that punishing people simply for the sake of punishment often backfires. In fact, it frequently makes offenders more violent. Violence begets violence, and many people were not violent before prison.
Rehab vs. prison should be an option a judge considers at time of sentencing. Let’s reserve prisons for violent offenders, who may be the people who truly belong in prison. A drug interventionist in New Jersey can help influence nonviolent offenders to accept rehabas an option before the court system event gets involved. It is important to get to the root causes of nonviolent crimes; drug addiction and alcohol recovery programs do work.Addiction counseling helps to break the cycle of dependence. Prison has won out for far too long in the battle of rehab vs. prison. It is time to change the playing field.