Treat 'Em or Jail 'Em? A Student’s Opinion

November 11, 2009

On Monday, the Akron Beacon Journal published a thought-provoking article about treating drug addicts rather than sending them to jail. Here’s a few interesting statistics presented in the article to support the case:

  • According to federal data, 7.6 million Americans needed treatment for illicit drug use in 2008, and only 1.2 million — or 16 percent — received it.
  • Thirty-seven percent of those seeking treatment don’t get it because they can’t pay for it — and many land in prison.
  • Counselors often earning less than the $40,000 per year that it costs to keep an inmate in prison in many states.

I asked my students to read the article and give their opinion on whether drug addicts should be helped or jailed. All of them agreed that addicts should be given drug treatment instead of overcrowding jails and prisons. Here’s one student’s opinion:

There should be more treatment for people on drugs. Providing treatment is less expensive. Jail doesn’t help them stop using drugs. There should be treatment centers in every community. Then the people who want help have access to it. They could get the tools they need to stop the addiction. It’s hard trying to quit using something that takes over your mind and body, but with a little, it could be easier. Federal money should be used to start the programs. People can’t stop because they don’t know how to stop. This could fix that problem.

What do you think?

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