THE BEST OF: The following article, initially published on March 2, 2010, describes the extraordinary degree the U.S. has relied (and continues to rely) on prison to deal with drug addicted, non-violent offenders as compared to other nations.
The new 144-page report released today by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University revealed that alcohol and other drugs were involved in 78 percent of violent crimes, 83 percent of property crimes, and 77 percent of public order, immigration or weapon offenses; and probation/parole violations The report also noted that in 2005, federal, state and local governments spent $74 billion on incarceration, court proceedings, probation and parole for substance-involved adult and juvenile offenders and less than one percent of that amount – $632 million – on prevention and treatment for them. The Report noted that the U.S. with 5% of the world’s population, had nearly 25% of all prisoners worldwide. Joseph A. Califano, Jr., CASA’s Chairman and President and former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, called the nation’s current prison policies, “Inane and inhuman….. The tragedy is that we know how to sharply reduce the costs of incarceration and the crimes committed by substance-involved offenders.”[see: CASA Report: Behind Bars II]