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Friday, May 18, 2012

Drug Treatment Can Impact Crime Rates

Seal of the United States Office of National D...
Seal of the United States Office of National Drug Control Policy, a part of the Executive Office of the President. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Each year the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy issues its drug monitoring report. Three keys items were highlighted in this year's report:
  • Illegal drugs play a central role in criminal acts reinforcing the view that drugs are a public health issue and if treated as so, the crime rate could be reduced
  • Cocaine use has declined since 2003, which may have resulted from public education campaigns
  • Since 1979 the rate of overall drug use in the U.S. has declined by about 30%
While this is all positive news, still there are other startling statistics. For example, according to the Reuters article: "on average 71 percent of men arrested in 10 U.S. metropolitan areas last year tested positive for an illegal substance at the time they were taken into custody." 

Government officials are now working on a strategy to break the cycle of drugs and crime by promoting substance abuse treatment as opposed to jail for nonviolent offenders.  Promoting this strategy would dovetail with the 2600+ drug courts that currently operate in the United States.

Dr. Redonna Chandler of the National Institute on Drug Abuse reminds us "5 million of an estimated 7 million American who line under criminal justice supervision would benefit from drug treatment intervention. But only 7.6 percent actually receive treatment."
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