An article in the Huffington Post does a good job of pointing out some important trends in drug policy and what might be on the horizon, in particular the tide may be turning away from the ‘War on Drugs’. What is interesting is the overall optimistic outlook, that things might be moving in a more progressive direction.
Even though the issues highlighted here relate to the USA, they are very relevant to what happens in the rest of the world.
One thing that caught my eye in particular was the US Attorney General Eric Holder criticising the policy of putting people in prison for drug offences:
“The path we are currently on is far from sustainable,” said Holder. “As we speak, roughly one out of every 100 American adults is behind bars. Although the United States comprises just five percent of the world’s population, we incarcerate almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners… It carries both human and moral costs that are too much to bear. And it results in far too many Americans serving too much time in too many prisons – and beyond the point of serving any good law enforcement reason.”
Yes that really does say 1 in a 100 of the population in prison!
In case you wanted to take a look at the article here is the link: The Beginning of the End: The Top 10 Drug Policy Stories of 2013 | Tony Newman.
In the June 2011 an article in the New England Journal of Medicine* pointed to some of the implications of this policy of incarceration: that in the past 50 years the US government policies “… have shifted the burden of care for addiction and mental illness to prisons” and goes on the show how prisons are in no position to deal with these issues in any way that we would regard humane.
I am pretty sure that people working the substance use field in this country will recognise this situation and hope that things will change at some point. If policy makers remember that prison actually costs more that most treatments, they might realise the value of doing the right thing, which is to invest in treatment rather than chasing people around with a stick.
Reference: *The New England Journal of Medicine June 2011 364:22 pp 2081-2083