Essay on Incarceration vs. Treatment

638 Words 3 Pages
Incarceration vs. Treatment The focus of this paper is incarceration versus treatment of low level drug offenders in California. The viewpoint in favor of incarceration is supported by the deterrence and incapacitation theory. This theory promotes increased arrests, prosecutions, and prison sentences as the primary means to dissuade drug use and street crime by removing the offender from the community. The theory further states that by implementing stricter sanctions targeting low level drug offenders further reduces drug related crime by increasing the personal costs of drug use among incipient users. Opposing arguments state that by simply punishing the offender it does not address the underlying causes of drug …show more content…
Not to mention the "on-street" savings of the offenders who successfully complete the program and become employed, discontinue welfare, and pay taxes. In regards to the cost aspect of incarceration versus treatment, considering the above stated figures, treatment is heavily beneficial. California leads the nation in the number of drug offenders incarcerated. The statistic is a staggering 132 per 100,000 of the population versus a national average of 45 per 100,000 of the population. In 1999, 12,749 Californians were sent to prison for low level drug offenses, such as possession. This is an increase of over 20-fold compared to the 379 Californians sent to prison for the same crime in 1980(Justice Policy Institute). Though overall crime is down in California, data show that stricter drug enforcement in regards to low level offenses is not associated with the decline in crime rates or drug use. Continuing, increased arrests of low-level drug offenders are significantly correlated with slower declines in property crime, and an increase in violent crime (Justice Policy Institute). According to Pape, those who complete a drug treatment program are four times less likely to be arrested for criminal activity. As veteran district attorney of 30 years, Gil Garcetti states in support of treatment programs "...from my own experience, I realize the proper response to people's drug addictions isn't to send them to prison." As

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