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On the Issue of Drug Crimes: A Letter to the Editor
For decades now, our community has been under the law which deems drug addiction as solely a crime and not much of a disease. The current law of our community uses the traditional method- incarceration- as a way to respond to drug possession and its accompanying substance dependence. When we say ‘incarceration’, we mean that perpetrators of drug dependence and the crimes that are associated with it are put in prison, without any proper measure to address the psycho- physical aspect of substance dependence. It is important to note that the notion that substance dependence such as addiction to alcohol and illegal drugs has already been established by the scientific community as not merely a simple compulsion, but rather a serious neuro- physiological condition that requires medical treatment. The big problem is that since people who are addicted to drugs that have been convicted of crime are approached the same way that non- addicted felons are, giving such addicted persons a more difficult situation in their jail time without having the right resources and opportunity to fight addiction and thus have the chance to live a life away from the crimes that are attached to drug abuse.
What we are concerned about is that the law seems ignore the more complex issue that substance abuse creates within and among the addicted person’s life. This is not to say that durg addicts are purely victims, because they are indeed accountable for the crimes they have committed even if drugs have rendered their moral judgment impaired. If we are however concerned about delivering a punishment that serves to rehabilitate and prevent criminals in general from re- offending, then we will make sure that the appropriate response is established in the justice system.
As a solution, the government must be able to execute a policy that successfully integrates medical treatment of substance dependence to the punitive sanctions of incarceration. The main goal here is to do two primary things: 1) punish the criminal- addict and 2) treat his or her condition. The ultimate goal here is to increase their chance of becoming more prepared against temptations of going back to their addicted state while at the same time empowering them to resist recidivism.
This solution requires a change in the legislation. There must be an amendment of the current law, which means that there is still ‘politics’ involved in this issue which requires for there to be a more ‘holistic’ approach. Indeed, the current punishment to drug abuse has become a law in our community because the people voted legislators who support this approach. The solution to the problem must thus be the same: with your help, Mr. Editor, we can educate the people of the current state of affairs of justice. We now live in a time where people are more ready to listen to reason rather than let sentiments get in the way of moral judgment. We should then rally the people through information campaigns such as what newspapers opinions sections can offer towards supporting legislators who advocate the integration of medical treatment to incarceration for drug offenders. What the people need now is for someone to blaze the trail towards a more civilized path- and with the help of media, we can empower our leaders to make a stand in favor of an integrated approach so that people will finally gain the courage to speak out.
Sincerely, Community Member