16 Dec Drug Rehab For Those in Prison
Our prisons are overcrowded with people, a majority of whom are drug offenders. But thousands will sit and wait to find a spot in the federal Residential Drug Abuse Program, which offers a one year sentence reduction to inmates who successfully complete the drug rehab program.
According to a USA Today report, in 2011 there were over 50,000 prisoners sitting on waiting lists for basic drug treatment, greatly exceeding the more than 31,000 who had enrolled in the program. Per information from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), many inmates even waited up to three months for entry.
GAO data points to overcrowding of the prison system as the culprit, which has reached over 40 percent of its capacity. The issue of overcrowding has come to a standstill – greater access to drug rehab programs is needed to free space through early release but shortages are not allowing access to such programs. In fact, data shows that only about a quarter of those completing the program were able to take advantage of the full sentence reduction due to long wait times.
Spokesman Ed Ross for the Federal Bureau of Prisons advises that the bureau is working on reducing the time inmates spend on waiting lists but says that services are dependent on budget allowances. States like California, Texas, and Kansas have started to take matters into their own hands by redirecting non-violent offenders to rehabilitation programs outside of prison, which are less costly. Through these programs, rates of re-entry are reduced as many focus on building job skills and other knowledge needed for the outside world.
Roger Werholtz, who used to head the Kansas Department of Corrections, says that there will be no change in overpopulation rates until we rethink strategies for handling drug abuse. GAO cites that the number of prisoners detained by the federal Bureau of Prisons has increased by half over the past 12 years, and most of this growth can be attributed to the system’s more than 90,000 drug offenders.
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