Drugs And Crime (2722 words) Essay

Drugs And Crime
Use federal tax dollars to fund these therapeutic communities in prisons. I feel
that if we teach these prisoners some self-control and alternative lifestyles
that we can keep them from reentering the prisons once they get out. I am also
going to describe some of today’s programs that have proven to be very
effective. Gottfredson and Hirschi developed the general theory of crime. It
According to their theory, the criminal act and the criminal offender are
separate concepts. The criminal act is perceived as opportunity; illegal
activities that people engage in when they perceive them to be advantageous.

Crimes are committed when they promise rewards with minimum threat of pain or
punishment. Crimes that provide easy, short-term gratification are often
committed. The number of offenders may remain the same, while crime rates
fluctuate due to the amount of opportunity (Siegel 1998). Criminal offenders are
people that are predisposed to committing crimes. This does not mean that they
have no choice in the matter, it only means that their self-control level is
lower than average. When a person has limited self-control, they tend to be more
impulsive and shortsighted. This ties back in with crimes that are committed
that provide easy, short-term gratification. These people do not necessarily
have a tendency to commit crimes, they just do not look at long-term
consequences and they tend to be reckless and self-centered (Longshore 1998,
pp.102-113). These people with lower levels of self-control also engage in
non-criminal acts as well. These acts include drinking, gambling, smoking, and
illicit sexual activity (Siegel 1998). Also, drug use is a common act that is
performed by these people. They do not look at the consequences of the drugs,
while they get the short-term gratification. Sometimes this drug abuse becomes
an addiction and then the person will commit other small crimes to get the drugs
or them money to get the drugs. In a mid-western study done by Evans et al.

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(1997, pp. 475-504), there was a significant relationship between self-control
and use of illegal drugs. The problem is once these people get into the criminal
justice system, it is hard to get them out. After they do their time and are
released, it is much easier to be sent back to prison. Once they are out, they
revert back to their impulsive selves and continue with the only type of life
they know. They know short-term gratification, the “quick fix” if you
will. Being locked up with thousands of other people in the same situation as
them is not going to change them at all. They break parole and are sent back to
prison. Since the second half of the 1980’s, there has been a large growth in
prison and jail populations, continuing a trend that started in the 1970’s.

The proportion of drug users in the incarcerated population also grew at the
same time. By the end of the 1980’s, about one-third of those sent to state
prisons had been convicted of a drug offense; the highest in the country’s
history (Reuter 1992, pp. 323-395). With the arrival of crack use in the
1980’s, the strong relationship between drugs and crime got stronger. The use
of cocaine and heroin became very prevalent. Violence on the streets that is
caused by drugs got the public’s attention and that put pressure on the police
and courts. Consequently, more arrests were made. While it may seem good at
first that these people are locked up, with a second look, things are not that
good. The cost to John Q. Taxpayer for a prisoner in Ohio for a year is around
$30,000 (Phipps 1998). That gets pretty expensive when you consider that there
are more than 1,100,000 people in United States prisons today (Siegel 1998).

Many prisoners are being held in local jails because of overcrowding. This rise
in population is largely due to the number of inmates serving time for drug
offenses (Siegel 1998). This is where therapeutic communities come into play.

The term “therapeutic community” has been used in many different forms of
treatment, including residential group homes and special schools, and different
conditions, like mental illness, alcoholism, and drug abuse (Lipton 1998,
pp.106-109). In the United States, therapeutic communities are used in the
rehabilitation of drug addicts in and out of prison. These communities involve a
type of group therapy that focuses more on the person a whole and not so much
the offense they committed or their drug abuse. They use a “community of
peers” and role models rather than professional clinicians. They focus on
lifestyle changes and tend to be more holistic (Lipton 1998, pp. 106-109). By
getting inmates to participate in these programs, the prisoners can break their
addiction to drugs. By freeing themselves from this addiction they can change
their lives. These therapeutic communities can teach them some self-control and
ways that they can direct their energies into more productive things, such as
sports, religion, or work. Seven out of every ten men and eight out of every ten
women in the criminal justice system used drugs with some regularity prior to
entering the criminal justice system (Lipton 1998, pp. 106-109). With that many
people in prisons that are using drugs and the connection between drug use and
crime, then if there was any success at all it seems like it would be a step in
the right direction. Many of these offenders will not seek any type of reform
when they are in the community. They feel that they do not have the time to
commit to go through a program of rehabilitation. It makes sense, then, that
they should receive treatment while in prison because one thing they have plenty
of is time. In 1979, around four percent of the prison population, or about
10,000, were receiving treatment through the 160 programs that were available
throughout the country (National Institute on Drug Abuse 1981). Forty-nine of
these programs were based on the therapeutic community model, which served
around 4,200 prisoners. In 1989, the percentage of prisoners that participated
in these programs grew to about eleven percent (Chaiken 1989). Some incomplete
surveys state today that over half the states provide some form of treatment to
their prisoners and about twenty percent of identified drug-using offenders are
using these programs (Frohling 1989). The public started realizing that drug
abuse and crime were on the rise and that something had to be done about it.

This led to more federal money being put into treatment programs in prisons
(Beckett 1994, pp. 425-447). The States were assisted through two Federal
Government initiatives, projects REFORM and RECOVERY. REFORM began in 1987, and
laid the groundwork for the development of effective prison-based treatment for
incarcerated drug abusers. Presentations were made at professional conferences
to national groups and policy makers and to local correctional officials. At
these presentations the principles of effective correctional change and the
efficacy of prison-based treatment were discussed. New models were formed that
allowed treatment that began in prison to continue after prisoners were released
into the community. Many drug abuse treatment system components were established
due to Project REFORM that include: 39 assessment and referral programs
implemented and 33 expanded or improved; 36 drug education programs implemented
and 82 expanded or improved; 44 drug resource centers established and 37
expanded or improved; 20 in-prison 12-step programs implemented and 62 expanded
or improved; 11 urine monitoring systems expanded; 74 prerelease counseling
and/or referral programs implemented and 54 expanded or improved; 39 post
release treatment programs with parole and 10 improved; and 77 isolated-unit
treatment programs started. In 1991, the new Center for Substance Abuse
Treatment established Project RECOVERY. This program provided technical
assistance and training services to start out prison drug treatment programs.

Most of the states that participated in REFORM were involved with RECOVERY, as
well as a few new states. In most therapeutic communities, recovered drug users
are placed in a therapeutic environment, isolated from the general prison
population. This is due to the fact that if they live with the general
population, it is much harder to break away from old habits. The primary
clinical staff is usually made up of former substance abusers that at one time
were rehabilitated in therapeutic communities. The perspective of the treatment
is that the problem is with the whole person and not the drug. The addiction is
a symptom and not the core of the disorder. The primary goal is to change
patterns of behavior, thinking, and feeling that predispose drug use (Inciardi
et al. 1997, pp. 261-278). This returns to the general theory of crime and the
argument that it is the opportunity that creates the problem. If you take away
the opportunity to commit crimes by changing one’s behavior and thinking then
the opportunity will not arise for the person to commit these crimes that were
readily available in the past. The most effective form of therapeutic community
intervention involves three stages: incarceration, work release, and parole or
other form of supervision (Inciardi et al. 1997, pp.261-278). The primary stage
needs to consist of a prison-based therapeutic community. Pro-social values
should be taught in an environment that is separate from the normal prison
population. This should be an on-going and evolving process that lasts at least
twelve months, with the ability to stay longer if it is deemed necessary. The
prisoners need to grasp the concept of the addiction cycle and interact with
other recovering addicts. The second stage should include a transitional work
release program. This is a form of partial incarceration in which inmates that
are approaching release dates can work for pay in the free community, but they
must spend their non-working hours in either the institution or a work release
facility (Inciardi et al. 1997, pp. 261-278). The only problem here is that
during their stay at this facility, they are reintroduced to groups and
behaviors that put them there in the first place. If it is possible, these
recovering addicts should stay together and live in a separate environment than
the general population. Once the inmate is released into the free community, he
or she will remain under the supervision of a parole officer or some other type
of supervisory program. Treatment should continue through either outpatient
counseling or group therapy. In addition, they should also be encouraged to
return to the work release therapeutic community for refresher sessions, attend
weekly groups, call their counselors on a regular basis and spend one day a
month at the facility (Inciardi et al. 1997, pp. 261-278). Since the early
1990’s, the Delaware correctional system has been operating this three-stage
model. It is based around three therapeutic communities: the KEY, a prison-based
therapeutic community for men; WCI Village, a prison-based therapeutic community
for women; and CREST Outreach Center, a residential work release center for men
and women. According to Inciardi et al. (1997, pp.261-278), the continuing of
therapeutic community treatment and sufficient length of follow up time, a
consistent pattern of reduction of drug use and recidivism exists. Their study
shows the effectiveness of the program extending beyond the in-prison program.

New York’s model for rehabilitation is called the Stay’n Out Program. This
is a therapeutic community program that was established in 1977 by a group of
recovered addicts (Wexler et al. 1992, pp. 156-175). The program was evaluated
in 1984 and it was reported that the program reduced recidivism for both males
and females. Also, from this study, the “time-in-program” hypothesis was
formed. This came from the finding that successful outcomes were directly
related to the amount of time that was spent in treatment. Another study, by
Toumbourou et al. (1998, pp. 1051-1064), tested the time-in-program hypothesis.

In this study, they found a linear relationship between reduced recidivism rates
and time spent in the program as well as the level of treatment attained. This
study found that it was the attainment of level progress rather than time in the
treatment that was most important. The studies done on New York’s Stay’n Out
program and Delaware’s Key-Crest program are some of the first large-scale
evidence that prison-based therapeutic communities actually produce a
significant reduction in recidivism rates and show a consistency over time. The
programs of the past did work, but before most of the programs were privately
funded, and when the funds ran out in seven or eight years, so did the programs.

Now with the government backing these types of programs, they should continue to
show a decrease in recidivism. It is much more cost effective to treat these
inmates. A program like Stay’n Out cost about $3,000 to $4,000 more than the
standard correctional costs per inmate per year (Lipton 1998, pp. 106-109). In a
program in Texas, it was figured that with the money spent on 672 offenders that
entered the program, 74 recidivists would have to be prevented from returning to
break even. It was estimated that 376 recidivists would be kept from returning
using the therapeutic community program (Eisenberg and Fabelo 1996, pp.

296-318). The savings produced in crime-related and drug use-associated costs
pay for the cost of treatment in about two to three years. The main question
that arises when dealing with this subject is whether or not people change.

According to Gottfredson and Hirschi, the person does not change, only the
opportunity changes. By separating themselves from people that commit crimes and
commonly do drugs, they are actually avoiding the opportunity to commit these
crimes. They do not put themselves in the situation that would allow their low
self-control to take over. Starting relationships with people who exhibit
self-control and ending relationships with those who do not is a major factor in
the frequency of committing crimes. Addiction treatment is very important to
this country’s war on drugs. While these abusers are incarcerated it provides
us with an excellent opportunity to give them treatment. The will not seek
treatment on their own. Without treatment, the chances of them continuing on
with their past behavior are very high. But with the treatment programs we have
today, things might be looking up. The studies done on the various programs,
such as New York’s Stay’n Out and Delaware’s Key-Crest program, prove that
there are cost effective ways available to treat these prisoners. Not only are
they cost effective, but they are also proven to reduce recidivism rates
significantly. These findings are very consistent throughout all of the
research, there are not opposing views. I believe that we can effectively treat
these prisoners while they are incarcerated and they can be released into
society and be productive, not destructive. Nothing else has worked to this
point, we owe it to them, and more importantly, we owe it to ourselves. We can
again feel safe on the streets after dark, and we do not have to spend so much
of our money to do it. Bibliography
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