Government Looks to Increase Treatment for Prisoners with Addictions

The economic case for increasing drug and alcohol rehab for prisoners is strong: studies have shown that in the long term, states can save billions by getting prisoners with addiction problems into treatment programs. Former prisoners who get clean and sober are far less likely to commit crimes in the future, breaking the cycle of recidivism that is currently causing a significant overcrowding problem in America’s jails.

But despite the general acceptance of this theory, the Associated Press reports that many states are being forced to cut back on rehab program funding for their penitentiary systems as a result of budget woes caused by the recession. For example, California recently was forced to essentially stop funding a successful drug and alcohol addiction program for its prisoners that voters approved in 2000.

"It’s easy to talk a good game about more treatment and helping people," said Scott Burns, executive director of the National District Attorneys Association. "But it smashes head on into reality when they don’t put their money where their mouth is."