Asked about drug treatment behind bars, New York State’s Attica prison told former federal drug czar spokesman Robert Weiner and Daphne Baille of Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities, “We’re not a drug prison.” Respond Weiner and Baille: “Every prison needs to be a ‘drug’ prison that provides treatment. Only then will we end the overcrowding and recidivism,” they say in a Chicago Sun-Times op-ed article.
Though 68 percent of arrestees test positive for drugs, only 14 percent of prisoners receive treatment, Weiner and Baille say. The President’s National Commission on Fiscal Reform, usually called the Deficit Commission, is scheduled to recommend ways to lower the deficit after the November elections. Expanded drug treatment for offenders, say Weiner and Baille, would take the proverbial “bite out of crime.” It would reverse overcrowding, reduce crime and recidivism and help federal, state and local budgets. Congress should double the $5 billion budgeted for all treatment and prevention, in and out of prison, say the authors, citing a UCLA study saying, for every dollar invested in treatment, taxpayers save $7 in reduced crime and other benefits.