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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

New Georgia Gov. Deal (R) Questions Keeping Drug Addicts in Jail to Save Money

In his inaugural address, the new Georgia Governor Nathan Deal (R) questions the wisdom of keeping criminals locked up, when their main offense is a drug charge:

"Presently, one out of every 13 Georgia residents is under some form of correctional control. It cost about $3 million per day to operate our Department of Corrections. And yet, every day criminals continue to inflict violence on our citizens and an alarming number of perpetrators are juveniles....

“For violent and repeat offenders, we will make you pay for your crimes. For other offenders who want to change their lives, we will provide the opportunity to do so with Day Reporting Centers, Drug, DUI and Mental Health Courts and expanded probation and treatment options. As a State, we cannot afford to have so many of our citizens waste their lives because of addictions. It is draining our State Treasury and depleting our workforce…..”

According to HuffPo, here's a stat showing just how many are in Georgia prisons with drugs has their main offense:

According to a 2009 Office of National Drug Control Policy report, approximately 17% of Georgia's 53,268 prisoners had drug-related offenses listed as their primary offense.

I happen to agree with this to a certain extent. Throwing drug addicts in jail won't cure them. In fact, it can make it harder for them to move on to a better life. They need psychiatric help, and you can't get good psychiatric help in prison.

Many drug possession charges are felonies, and that can haunt them for the rest of their lives, if they have a felony on their record. Even if they are staying clean, they will have a harder time getting a job or a place to live, especially in a good area, with that on their record.

Now, I'm not calling for the legalization of drugs or letting them off the hook totally. I just think that they should rethink how they deal with non-violent drug offenders.

Violent drug offenders should never be let off easy. Also, drug dealers should get tougher sentences because they are knowingly taking advantage of the pain and misery of addicts like parasites, in order to make money and gain power.

However, non-violent addicts should be put into recovery programs and institutions with the option of their charges to be expunged, if they stay clean for a certain length of time, and periodic drug tests should be done to prove that they've stayed clean before their charges are pardoned.

If these addicts get help and stay clean, then, they'll stay out of jail, and in the long run, that'll save money.

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