Overcrowded prisons and jails are dangerous to the inmates, correctional officers, and at the end of the day, to society. One major cause of too many prisons and too many inmates is the excessive incarceration rate of non-violent inmates. The United States is addicted to locking up non-violent inmates.
In Ohio, two young heroin addicts faced incarceration for drug addiction. In Hardin County, Kaylee Morrison was imprisoned for four years for violating drug laws. Ohio taxpayers will pay $100,000 for the incarceration of this 28-year-old woman who will not receive in prison the appropriate help she needed to control and manage her addiction.
At the same time, another Ohio county used different tactics for the same problem. Clayton Wood, 29, was referred to the county drug court which ordered drug treatment in his community. He was allowed to work full-time. By this court decision, society did not pay the high cost of imprisoning Mr. Wood and he received treatment for his drug addiction.
In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, a local single mother was sentenced to 12-18 months in prison for providing an abortion pill to her teenage daughter to terminate her pregnancy. The single mother, a nursing home aide, purchased the pill online from Europe for her pregnant teenage daughter. The 16-year-old daughter did not want to have the baby and the family did not have health insurance to cover an abortion. However, Pennsylvania law requires a physician to perform an abortion.
With this imprisonment, the family lost the financial and emotional support of the single parent for a substantial period of time. After release, the parent (now with a criminal record) will have difficulty finding employment. Society incurred the large cost of incarcerating this single parent.
In 2009, almost 82 percent of federal prisoners were convicted of nonviolent crimes. The 2008 statistics show that almost 50 percent of the inmates in state prisons were for nonviolent offenses. In 2013, the United states had 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of the world’s inmates. The United States needs treatment for its addiction.
By Bradley D. Schwartz
Founder of prisonpath.com