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RICK AMATO'S BLOG


YOU CANT JAIL ADDICTION OUT OF PEOPLE


November 19, 2020


A while back when I was watching the presidential debates, I heard one of the candidates promising to change the laws that jail Americans for having problems with substance abuse. That’s one of the wisest remarks any politician has made in ages regarding the criminal justice system. It’s just a fact that serving time in jail is never going to solve someone’s addiction problem.

There’s been an abundance of research on crime in America and the recidivism rate to show that the primary reason people go to prison in America is for non-violent crimes related to alcoholism/addiction. What would the result be if we took 10% of the taxpayer money spent on our federal prison system and spent it on addiction treatment camps instead. People would still be confined, while being supervised as they completed their treatment, including a 12-step program. This way they could overcome their drug and/or alcohol abuse problems while learning to serve others.

If I had the funds and personnel to undertake such a mission, this is where I would focus my time and attention. Since I don’t have the resources, I’ll be the man that counsels people going down that path, encouraging them not to go that way, but to choose this way instead. When experts around the world look at our prison system, packed to overflowing with more coming in every day, they can see the utter futility. We have a huge recidivism rate in America, with people continually returning to prison. It has become clear to many that mass incarceration for non-violent addiction-related crimes does not work.

I want you to think about what I’ve said and if you have an opportunity to voice your opinion on the topic, whether it be on social media or in a public forum, please express the need for a real solution. If our system incarcerates people for nothing more than their alcohol and/or drug abuse problems, we owe them more than “three squares a day and a bed” don’t you think? We should implement evidence-based programs that treat far more than just their addiction. They work to transform them as humans. These programs have shown that with certain steps and a little support people can totally refrain from ever going back to relying on alcohol and/or drugs again.

The governments of most countries around the world, including the United States, now recognize that you cannot cure an addict by jailing them. Unfortunately, the people running our criminal justice system have a hard time admitting defeat. They cannot admit the fact that proven solutions actually exist that would solve the problem of addiction once and for all and that those should be implemented.

Hopefully, those who read these words will understand the meaning of Jesus Christ’s words when he said, “Whenever you visit someone in prison, you are visiting me.” Prison doesn’t have to be a negative place where those leaving are bitter, hostile, and angry and more equipped than ever to commit crimes. Instead, it could be a place where they could experience a spiritual awakening that would be strong enough to motivate them from ever abusing alcohol or drugs again. It could be a place that motivates them to work toward becoming contributing members of society who will not do anything that would cause a return to prison. Federal addiction treatment camps are what’s needed.