This new, grant-funded program giving addicts alternatives to prison is fine and dandy, but why is it"news?" We've known this for decades: Treatment works for drug offenders; prison doesn't. No news there.
And why does the county only do it with grant money, if $30K can be saved for every person who goes through it instead of prison? It sounds like even though there's a 70-75% success rate, they will drop it and go back to wasting money sending addicts to prison (where only 4% will get ANY kind of drug treatment) if they don't get more grants. GRR!!!
An even better solution would be to end the war on drugs and make health care (and thus drug treatment) accessible to all when needed - that would save a lot of lives and money right away...
Sep 20, 2013 3:52 PM
Sep 20, 2013 4:37 PM
By Paige Hansen PIMA COUNTY, AZ ( Tucson News Now) -
Pima County leaders are touting the benefits of a program
that keeps some drug offenders out of prison. It is part of the changing
attitude towards non-violent drug offenses. U.S. Attorney General Eric
Holder recently announced he is expanding a federal effort to keep
non-violent drug defendants from getting long prison terms.
The people behind the local program say Arizona's first "Drug
Treatment Alternative to Prison" program or DTAP, is getting results,
better than what they expected. A three-year grant to fund the program
is up at the end of the month, and now the search is on for more funding
to keep it going. One of the arguments for keeping, and expanding DTAP
is that it costs less to put these sorts of offenders through a rehab
program than it does to put them behind bars.
"Of course, it takes money to save money so we have to have the money
to put into this program: $10,000 per participant to save $40,000,"
Amelia Cramer, the chief deputy Pima County attorney said. "It's going
to cost Arizona taxpayers one way or the other."
According to a report conducted by an independent agency, Pima County
spent at average of "approximately $10,000 to rehabilitate an
individual DTAP participant who succeeds in the program, compared to a
cost of more than $40,000 if that same individual had been incarcerated
for the average sentence of two-and-a-half years," according to a news
release sent by the county.
Michael Kennedy, 45 years old and a Tucson native says he has been to
prison five times and started using drugs when he was 13 years old.
"People like me don't do what I do," Kennedy said of his subsequent
recovery and graduation from the DTAP program. "People like me end up
dead or in prison for the rest of their life."
Kennedy qualified for the DTAP program because he is a multiple-time
offender, charged with a drug-related offense with no history of violent
or sexual crimes. Kennedy says in the past, he would go to prison, get
clean, then end up back to square one upon release.
"Then I get out," Kennedy said after saying he would use his time in
prison to get off drugs. "I know that drugs is my problem so I get a job
and I try to be a normal person, a productive person but yet I haven't
dealt with what the problem is. The problem is me."
Kennedy said he started using drugs to feel better about himself. He
says it started with weed, then coke and finally, heroin and meth. His
addiction fueled his life of crime, he said. Kennedy said he stole for
drugs and money.
"I should be dead, or I should be in prison for the rest of my life," Kennedy said. "And I'm not. Thank you God, thank you."
After years of living a life of crime, Kennedy says he is thankful
for "normal." He says he has a job at a local car wash, pays taxes and
has been sober for two years, seventeen days and counting.
The program is designed to reduce drug addiction and drug-related
crime in Pima County. Cramer says going into the grant nearly three
years ago, they anticipated a 40-percent success rate. The program
turned out to be successful 70 to 75-percent of the time, Cramer said.
The grant runs out at the end of the month but will continue in a
smaller capacity until the county finds out whether it will be eligible
for more funding either from the state or federal government.
Pima County was funded for three years through one of 28 grants
awarded nationwide by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
and the U.S. Department of Justice.
Copyright 2013 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.