Rehabilitation or Incarceration

There has been an ongoing debate on the need to solve the drug problem which has been on the rise across the country. The need to come up with concrete solutions has been a recurrent theme for both social and political commentary for the last two decades. Various suggestions have been put forward with an aim of coming up with the best strategy to fight this problem which threatens the very future of the country. Statistics indicate that drug use has been on the rise despite the stringent measures which have been put in place to deal with the problem. A survey carried out in 2007 found out that eight percent of people aged twelve years and above reported using illicit drugs over the past one month, this was an increase from six percent in 2006. (Sidlow, E and Henschen, B 2008)

Despite the debate which has raged on the best method applicable as far as dealing with the drug menace is concerned all are in agreement that drugs have serious effects on the individual who consume as well as the society at large. The drugs interfere with the normal physiological functions of the body leading to serious repercussions which can at time be life threatening. The crime rate has been known to be high in areas where consumption of drugs is high. Most of those who engage in drugs are also known to have engaged in crime in one time or another. This at times is done to finance their expensive habits or can be triggered by drug consumption.

The effects of drug abuse continue to be felt in the society where families breakdown due to both or one of the partner being an addict. This leads to children being brought up by a single parent or by their relatives therefore interfering with their normal lives. Children who abuse drugs have been known to have abnormal tendencies which can even lead to suicide attempts. Family being the pillar of the society is adversely affected when members indulge into this dangerous behaviour.These effects are either felt emotionally or financially as all the family resources are channeled towards financing this habit or in seeking treatment for the affected member. (Hennessy, J and Pallone, N 2002)

There is an established relationship between crime and drug use. First, when drugs are banned or heavily regulated there is a likelihood of violence among the dealers as they try to control the market. When it comes to consumers it has been established that most of the crimes which are committed in the country, those involved are either under the influence of drugs or have taken the substance to enable them carry out their activities. Therefore rise in criminal activity in the country can be directly attributed to drug abuse.

Dealing with drugs is a criminal activity which is punishable by law the offenders are usually sentenced depending on the type of drug. This is an issue which has brought serious issue since some drugs are used by given groups leading to discrimination against as far as justice process is concerned. All in all drug use is a problem which needs serious solution to be able to reduce the escalating rates of their abuse across the states. Incarceration has been one of the methods which have been used for a long time to punish the offenders. There have been calls from different quarters to come up with different ways of dealing with the issue since jailing has not stopped the spread of drug abuse in the country. Indeed the problem has rose to levels which if not checked might lead to destruction of a whole generation (Bray, R and Marsden, M 1999)

It is out rightly clear that incarceration will not stop the spread of drug use. The solution partly lies with the rehabilitation. It may take time to rehabilitate a drug user but once the program is over we are sure that we have one less drug user off the hook. Incarceration might work temporary but since the fundamental issues which led an individual to this problem remain unaddressed he or she will find the way back to the menace. Once we embrace rehabilitation the congestion being experienced in our correctional centers will be eased as the offenders will be put in a program which does not need them to be behind the bars. United States of America has been in bad books as far as incarceration is concerned. It shares a position with some of the failed and undemocratic nations of the world as far as incarceration is concerned. Indeed the country has been listed among as one with highest number of prisoners. It has been established that drug offenders constitute nearly sixty percent of all the inmates in the country. This is an increase from twenty percent in a span of twenty years. This clearly indicates that a real problem exists and incarceration can not solve it. (Sidlow, E and Henschen, B 2008)

The fundamental issue in the battle against drug abuse is the struggle to help those who have this problem to lead a drug free life. Rehabilitation strongly supported with drug education is a vital weapon that can help win the battle and ultimately the problem will reduce significantly. Rehabilitation not only helps the victim to live off the drug but also gives the opportunity to reach others and convince them to leave the dangerous behavior through peer influence.

It is clearly evident that more than fifty percent of those drug related criminals who complete their treatment program in the rehabilitation centers rarely commit new crimes. This shows the effectiveness of the rehabilitation program in reducing the rates of the drug abuse as well as bringing the crime rates down. On the other hand those who serve their prison terms and released to the community without undergoing any rehabilitation often find themselves back in to their old days. This clearly points out the importance of rehabilitation in reforming the criminals as well as helping those who are hooked in drugs.

There has been a shift from incarceration to treatment with great result being yielded from such a program. The non violent offenders have been targeted for this program with successful outcome. It also goes a long way in saving taxpayers money. Rehabilitation is cheap in the long run and it ends benefiting the individual and the community at large. Drug abuse is a health issue therefore putting the offender behind the bars does not address the real problem. Incarcerating such elements only escalates the problem since once they get out they will continue with the problem. Rehabilitation deals with the problem head therefore going a long way in helping the addict to reform. (Sidlow, E and Henschen, B 2008)

Dealing with the drug problem is a Herculean task which can not be wished away by a prison term. The offender may be put behind the bars but without proper treatment the habit will still continue. Rehabilitation offers the offender a chance to change his or her ways and become a responsible member of the community. If I was in charge of the justice system rehabilitation would be the first option. This program would be instituted in all drug prone regions because thats the only way we can win the war against drugs in this country.


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