Sunday, June 26, 2005

Should we let drug offenders avoid prison?

More and more drug offenders are ending up in our prisons. More and more people are saying that allowing offenders to avoid prison would be a good way for us to solve the problem of escalating costs for more and more prisoners.

My experience in a career as a child protection worker is that at least one adult in families where there is child abuse or neglect abuses alcohol or is involved in the illegal drug trade in ninety per cent of child welfare cases. Usually no one in these families is immune from the effects of choices being made by these adults. Families are better off when the offending adult is removed after being caught committing a crime. Maybe the adult is convicted of child abuse, maybe he or she is convicted of drug involvement, maybe it is something else. These are persons who are completely self-centered and regard other people only as objects to be used to satisfy whatever whim they are seeking to satisfy. They are prone to constant self pity when things do not go their way. Feeling sorry for themselves, they justify their next crime.

Prison at least allows the family the safety of putting together attempts to rebuild. Until we see substantial results from alternative programs, we should not take away prison as a possible consequence.