The Truth About Incarceration Versus Treatment

Those in Texas who commit crimes often do so because they have substance abuse problems that lead to poor decision making, impulsive behavior and desperation. As society deals with the high costs of incarceration, some are questioning if putting offenders in treatment rather than jail can lower the costs of crime over time.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, it can cost taxpayers almost six times to incarcerate a person than it would to provide treatment. Many offenders not only deal with substance abuse problems but have co-occurring mental health disorders that may require treatment and they may not get the medical treatment they need while incarcerated. This means that once they are free from jail or prison, they are likely to go right back to the issues they had before because the underlying trauma and triggers have not been addressed.

Many Americans do not understand how spending money on treatment can save money. While incarceration is more expensive than drug treatment, incarceration costs are also lowered because offenders in recovery are less likely to be arrest again or commit a costly crime. Rather than putting a Band-Aid on the situation until it becomes a problem again, the core issues are addressed and dealt with.

Overall, the long-term health for individuals who receive treatment is improved. This leads to lowered health care costs and fewer uninsured patients. Court costs and law enforcement costs are also decreased. According to the Foundations Recovery Network, if just 10% of addicted offenders went to rehab instead of jail, billions of dollars would be cut off the criminal justice system’s bill.

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