Instead of throwing drug addicts in jail, Texas should invest more money in substance abuse treatment, says the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, which adds that the move could provide millions of dollars in savings and improve public safety, according to the Texas Tribune. “You cannot cure addiction by locking it up,” said the coalition’s Ana Yáñez Correa. “It doesn't cure it; it makes it worse.” In Texas, arrests for drug possession have increased 32 percent in the last decade, and about 90 percent of all drug-related arrests are for possession — not dealing, the report says.
In 2011, the nearly 15,000 inmates in jails and prisons on drug possession offenses statewide cost taxpayers more than $725,000 daily. The coalition argues that providing more state resources for treatment would be less costly and would prevent crimes associated with drug use. Since 2007, lawmakers have directed money that would have been invested in building new prisons to diversion, probation, and treatment programs. Facing a $27 billion budget shortfall in 2011, the legislature curtailed the growth of some diversion and treatment programs that had helped slow the incarceration rate in Texas. Without more investment in those kinds of programs, Texas prisons and jails could again exceed their capacity by 2014, the report says.