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Fact Sheet: Key Facts and Potential Solutions on Drug Abuse (Dec 2012)
Press Release: Texas Must Find Cost-Effective Solutions to Stop Addiction (Jan 10, 2013)
Texas wastes significant taxpayer dollars imprisoning many individuals who pose no legitimate risk to public safety. Instead, their low-level offenses have resulted from a struggle with substance abuse or mental health that cannot be “treated” through incarceration.
According to a new report by the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition (TCJC), about 90% of all drug-related arrests in Texas are for possession of a controlled substance, not delivery or distribution. In 2011 alone, nearly 15,000 individuals were in prison or state jail because of a drug possession offense, costing taxpayers more than $725,000 daily.
Drug treatment and community supervision are successful at targeting the root causes of criminal behavior, reducing crime, and lowering costs to the state – including re-incarceration costs, associated health care costs, and other collateral costs attributed to substance abuse. These approaches also require a significantly smaller front-end investment than incarceration, with estimated average costs for community supervision outpatient services approximately 5 times less than incarcerating a person suffering from substance abuse. Furthermore, rates of re-offending are also lower for community supervision than prison, making it a viable option in terms of public safety.
TCJC’s report offers additional recommendations to help people stay healthy and safe, including pre-arrest programs that divert people into needed treatment and rehabilitative services; the implementation of a system-wide risk assessment to facilitate better-informed treatment and programming decisions; appropriate sanctions for incompliance with probation terms; and improved staff training for practitioners in Texas’ criminal justice system.