When the police arrest someone for using or buying illegal drugs, the first response is simply to put that person in jail. If convicted, they spend time behind bars. They’re then released and told not to do the same thing again. The authorities view prison time as enough of a deterrent.
But what if it’s not? What if the person doesn’t need a deterrent at all? What if what they really need is medical help to overcome a drug addiction?
Take, for example, the story of a man who spent most of his life getting arrested for drug-related crimes. When all was said and done, he had 40 felony convictions on his record. He had spent many nights in jail. He had gotten imprisoned on felony charges six different times.
Each time, he faced the same issues. He got arrested while addicted to drugs, driving his criminal habits beyond his control. When he got out, he still had the exact same addiction problems. Nothing had really changed, and he inevitably broke the law again, got arrested again and watched as the cycle repeated itself.
It’s not that he wanted to break the law, had no regard for the law or didn’t care about going to jail. It’s just that addiction is incredibly strong, it makes people do all manner of things they don’t want to do, and it trapped him endlessly in a cycle that was never designed to actually give him the help he needed.
In the end, he did get help from an outside organization. He was able to beat his addiction and finally stay out of prison. He became a father, got a degree from college and essentially started a brand new life.
The role of addiction
This story shows that the prison system may not take the role of addiction seriously enough. That’s why we have specialized drug courts, which sometimes allow nonviolent offenders to get treatment instead of prison time.
But how many other people get trapped in that same cycle? After all, addiction doesn’t just lead to drug crimes. It could lead to theft or financial crimes as people seek the money they need to pay for the addiction.
Getting arrested and getting imprisoned without proper assistance sets a person up to do it all over again. If the goal of the criminal justice system is to prevent crime, we have to ask ourselves if this is really working.
With your future in mind, you can see how important it is to really know all of the options you have if you get arrested on drug charges. There is just too much at stake not to consider it from every angle.