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Addiction as a Criminal Issue

Discussion in 'General Substance Abuse Discussion' started by SPR012, Nov 29, 2015.

  1. SPR012

    SPR012 Member

    Too often addicts are scared to seek help for their problems as they fear being treated like a criminal or jail time. I stand firm in my belief that if an individual chooses to seek help for their problems, that individual should be exempt from the criminal justice system or any felony charges. Addiction is a health issue, not a criminal issue. What are your thoughts or comments?
    JonnyMacdonald likes this.
  2. kassie1234

    kassie1234 Community Champion

    I agree that there needs to be a resolution for the addict that actually gets to the root cause of the problem. If you're just throwing an addict in jail for using a substance, then it's really only going to serve to make those issues worse. I wish there was something like mandatory rehab/support groups for those using drugs instead of jail time - I've heard of some states and countries starting to move towards an approach like that and I think it's a great idea.
  3. Coolkidhere

    Coolkidhere Community Champion

    I also think that rehab is the best way to help addicts. Somehow, I'm a little torn on this issue though. I think that if an addict has not committed any crime, then jail time is not necessary. But if a person under the influence of drug, has committed crimes, then he or she should have the jail time mandatory for whatever crime has been committed. But of course, rehab or therapy should also be mandatory for a person who has to go to jail for a crime he has committed while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  4. Jasmine2015

    Jasmine2015 Community Champion

    You have said eveything I was going to say. How does it make sense to throw someone in jail for having health issues? Think of all the time and resources wasted on throwing addicts into jail when it could be used to get them into rehab! I bet jails wouldn't be as crowed and cops could spend their time on catching Actual criminals.
  5. dyanmarie25

    dyanmarie25 Community Champion

    I somehow do agree with you. I think an addict needs rehabilitation more than he/she needs jail. However, if a certain addict has done more than abusing drugs such as murder, or rape, or something like that, I think he/she needs to pay for those crimes.
  6. Dwayneu

    Dwayneu Community Champion

    I agree, but sadly for too many people, throwing "these worthless addicts" in jail and getting them out of their way is the easiest option. Luckily a lot of people in the medical field are more supportive and understanding, maybe because they can grasp the issue. However if you have substance problems and have to deal with law enforcement, it's a living nightmare.
  7. pwarbi

    pwarbi Community Champion

    I agree that a lot of people won't seek help with their addictions for the fear of how they will be treated, and something does need to be put in place to help that.

    Making drug addicts exempt from facing any criminal proceedings at all though, for me is going to far. While they need help in getting clean, they also need to be treated like everyone else and you can't say this person shouldn't go to jail because they're on drugs, but that person should because they aren't, if they've both committed the same crime.
  8. deanokat

    deanokat Community Organizer Community Listener

    @SPR012... I totally agree with you. Addiction is indeed a health issue, not a criminal one. And it needs to be treated as such. If someone is willing to get the help they need, they should have that option available to them in lieu of jail time. However, if they have committed other crimes besides just drug use or possession, they should not be immune from punishment for those crimes. For example, if someone's high and robs someone, they shouldn't get a walk for the robbery just because they were high. (I'm pretty sure most people would agree, right?) Also, if a drug user is also selling drugs, they should definitely be punished for that.
  9. serenity

    serenity Community Champion

    Yes I think that they should cut addicts some slack because addiction is something that distorts the good reasoning and judgement of people, and for the most part they actually won't do such things like breaking the law if they were mentally sane people, so addicts should be given the proper treatment that they deserve and not throw them into jail as soon as they're caught.
  10. Rainman

    Rainman Community Champion

    If someone seeks treatment for addiction issues I doubt that they'll be arrested and prosecuted for using drugs. However if they are in possession of drugs when they are arrested that's when they'll find themselves on the wrong side of the law. The logic behind this is that locking up addicts would reduce crime. But it doesn't.

    I think amending the laws and compelling addicts to choose between prison time and treatment could help deal with the drug problem which now is a national crisis.
  11. irishrose

    irishrose Community Champion

    This is a great point - if an addict wants to go through recovery, then they should have that option in stead of jailtime. However, how do we discern the people who truly want to recover, from the addicts who may only be trying to escape jail time? At what point, if any, do we limit an addict's options?
  12. doatk22

    doatk22 Community Champion

    Throwing people in jail doesn't help them really except they have to detox. But they're not getting to the root of the addiction so more than likely when the people get out of jail they'll continue back to using.
  13. HalfBeard

    HalfBeard Active Contributor

    This is a major flaw in our justice system: Throw addicts in jail because it's easier and in many cases cheaper. Jail are for those who bring drugs to communities, those sefish individuals who prey on the yourh for personal gain (dealers), not for those suffering from addiction.
  14. oraclemay

    oraclemay Community Champion

    I do agree with this view but not everyone does! Throwing an addict in jail can mean the death of them or even more drugs. This has never kept any addict from taking drugs. It is the dealers that should be locked away not the addicts. They need help and should be given all the help available to addicts.
  15. MyDigitalpoint

    MyDigitalpoint Community Champion

    Addicted persons do not only fear to be treated as criminals, but most of the times is fear to society in the knowledge they will criticize and condemn before actually helping, besides never forgetting the past once that being clean and sober is achieved.

    However when it comes to the law system, is absolutely wrong treat addicted people as if they were criminals, because rather than help, this might be a triggering factor to become real criminals overtime if such treatment comes in the wrong mental moment.
  16. zaerine

    zaerine Community Champion

    I think you will be only charged if you will be caught handling illegal drugs or possession of illegal drugs. So if an addict seeks help in a government institution, he or she will less likely bring some drugs with her so, I do not think he will be charged. Even those who are obvious addicts will not be just caught and charged.
    In terms of how people see addicts, sadly to say that some people will give an impression that the person is a criminal with those addicts that are obviously skinny or look wasted.
    In my opinion, an addict or not, if they commit crimes, they should be jailed or be judged accordingly.
  17. JonnyMacdonald

    JonnyMacdonald Community Champion

    I agree with you 100%.
    The traditional paradigm is if they admit to using drugs, then we lock them up.
    BUT this is changing, I have posted here a few times about certain police forces changing the way they deal with this problem.
    Hopefully more organizations will start to approach this issue with a more enlightened response.
  18. HalfBeard

    HalfBeard Active Contributor

    It's just a matter of smarter policing and governong. When Portugal decriminalized drugs (instead of jail you go to rehab), the amount of addicts dropped by 50%.
    JonnyMacdonald likes this.
  19. JonnyMacdonald

    JonnyMacdonald Community Champion

    I love the Portugal story!
    I talk about it a lot, I am really happy somewhere on this planet this is happening to show the rest of us how it should be done.
  20. pstrong1969

    pstrong1969 Community Champion

    Its a known fact that eventually most addicts turn to crime to support their habit. Thats when it becomes a criminal justice system concern. Ive been to prison 5 times due to drug related crimes. All because i wanted to get high. There has to be consequences to people committing crimes no matter what the reason is. Generally the system does grant rehab for 1st time offenders. Just like in my case, i committed a robbery to get money to get high. I was sentenced to programs to treat my addiction isssues. I didnt want to quit. So i ended up going to prison the next time i committed a felony. I deserved it. I brought it on myself. Alot of addicts just dont want help and thats a sobering fact. Believe it or not there is just as many drugs in prison is there is on the streets. It becomes the individuals responsiblity it he/she wants to stay clean.