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Prisons are overpopulated. How can a reduction in the number of those thrown into prison for crimes they have committed actually benefit our society? The financial component to prison overpopulation is a real concern for our government, and therefore us as taxpayers.
If a system could be put into place that evaluated those entering prison for symptoms of mental illness and substance abuse, many men and women being incarcerated could be treated for those determined diagnoses rather than continuing to overpopulate prisons. All criminal lawyers know the cycle of prison inmates and addiction can become repetitive: an individual needs money for alcohol or drugs, he or she commits a crime to get that money, he or she is arrested and locked up, then released from jail. What happens next? The individual needs money again, so another crime is committed. How is this helpful for that individual, or for the judicial system our country has in place?
If an individual is arrested for a drug related crime, substance use, abuse, and addiction evaluation would be extremely helpful in identifying whether the alcohol and/or drug use has lead to this criminal’s choices. From there, what can best help that individual can be applied to that person. In other words, if the criminal has gone through the cycle of crime because of substance use and can now be treated for that instead of just thrown in a jail cell, maybe the pattern can be broken and the person can eventually participate in society in a constructive, clean and sober manner.