Drug-related prison populations continue to rise; yet putting addicts through rehab only costs 25% of keeping them in prison.
So why is the United States government still focusing so hard on enforcement tactics?
It comes down to the unwillingness of many to accept the reality of drug addiction as a public health issue. Conservative America isn’t exactly happy for heavy users to receive only rehabilitation as penance for their crimes. Many want punishment, fire and brimstone, and for the “sinners” to be struck down by the hand of God —or better yet, Clint Eastwood. Since they’re the taxpayers, there’s only so much the government can allocate to progressive methods before having to quell deafening cries of misuse.
It’s going to take a change in the public consciousness before any substantial changes are made; a realization that many drug users are just as much victims as the general public are. Excessive drug abuse is a health issue driven by difficult-to-combat mental impulses and systemic cultural problems. And although I agree that people who commit drug-related crimes should take responsibility for their actions, without forgiveness, education, and a belief in the propensity for others to improve, drug users will never be given the opportunity to do so.