The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates illicit drug and alcohol use costs the American tax payer approximately $700 billion per year.

The Sentencing Project, utilizing published government data, issued a report that found between “1994 and 2002, the average time served by African Americans for a drug offense increased by 73%, compared to an increase of 28% for white drug offenders.”

In statistical information the Federal government compiles on its prison system, the government found that during a one month period prior to November 28, 2015, the number of inmates imprisoned due to drug related offenses was 86,497 or 46.6% of the prison population.

The information presented in these reports provide opportunity to study cause and effect of the issue.  A 73% statistical increase in the number of African Americans in federal prisons within an eight-year period should compassionately warrant a clearer understanding of the data. What financial, legal or judicial standard changed during this period for the communities effected? 

Drug related offenses account for almost one-half of the population housed in Federal prisons. Why the government would want to be in the business of caring for a population whose imprisonment only serves to further drain the social and economic viability of the communities from which these prisoners come, escapes logic. Consider that 86,497 inmates housed in Federal prisons on drug-related offenses are no longer contributing to 86,497 families. The number of people affected is no small percentage of the American population. 

The imprisonment of drug offenders ignores economic and psychological information about the factors which contribute to addiction, and, completely ignores information about how best to treat the problem. It is highly unlikely that every addict would find success in beating an addiction through a 12-step program, but it is highly improbable that he or she would find better success through a Federal prison rehabilitation (stay or program.)

William S. Boroughs’ performance Father Murphy, a defrocked priest addicted to heroin, is a haunting reminder of the fragility of, and the lack of dignity afforded to, the addict.

 

Father Murphy: “I have no where else to go. There is no demand in the priesthood for elderly drug addicts.” 

 

Editors, writers and members of the Fraternal Order of the Leather Apron Club.