Friday, May 29, 2009

Drugs & Criminals

In this story from USA Today, reporting on studies that show 50% of men arrested had drugs in their system will, unfortunately, continue the mistaken belief that if you can stop a person from using drugs, that person will then stop being a criminal; which sadly, is the type of thinking that drives the 70% recidivism rate.

Criminals don’t generally commit crimes because they use drugs; they use drugs because illegal drugs are a ubiquitous element within the criminal world—as legal alcohol is among the non-criminal world—a common facet that lubricates all of the social interactions with an additional function of social stratification.

While criminal justice practitioners and policy makers hope to find the silver bullet that can reduce crime, there is really only one that will work over time and with large populations—built upon the realization that criminals are largely independent agents—and that is a voluntary internal transformation.

An excerpt.

“Half of the men arrested in 10 U.S. cities test positive for some type of illegal drug, a federal study found.

“Not only do the findings show "a clear link between drugs and crime," they also highlight the need to provide drug treatment, says Gil Kerlikowske, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, which will make the data public Thursday.

“Assessing offenders for drug and mental health problems and providing treatment is "important if you want to stop recidivism and recycling people through the system," says Kerlikowske, who supports drug courts that offer court-ordered drug treatment.

"There's an opportunity when someone is arrested to divert them to treatment if they need it," says Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance Network, a group that supports legalizing marijuana and treating drug use as a public health issue. "But people shouldn't have to get arrested to get treatment."

“In 2008 researchers interviewed and obtained urine samples from 3,924 men arrested in 10 metropolitan areas: Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Denver, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, New York, Portland, Ore., Sacramento and Washington, D.C.”