Prison is a form of punishment, kind of like an adult version of time out. This means that prison is only an effective form of punishment for certain offenses. Incarcerations have been on the rise over the years, and our attitudes have grown exponentially regarding the effects of prison on a person. Some people have idealized prison as a mental health facility, a drug rehab center, and even a conversation center where men and women find God.
Research conducted by Prison Policy found that more than half of the state prison population and two-thirds of the sentenced jail population report drug dependence or abuse, compared to just 5% of the adult general population. With limited resources, many prisons subscribe to the cold-turkey method of treatment, resulting in several weeks or more of harsh withdrawal symptoms for the user. Withdrawal may work for some, but as a treatment, it never addresses the reason for the drug use, increasing the likelihood of repeat use after release.
Perhaps incarcerated individuals should be provided with successful treatment methods in healthcare facilities staffed by qualified professionals rather than by a small staff in a prison.
Prison Policy research also found that only about a quarter of those reporting drug dependence or abuse had received treatment since admission. Professional treatment may lead to a safer and more endurable way to sobriety, and help ensure long-term sobriety after incarceration.
We need prisons to help punish criminals and keep dangerous people out of society. But let’s start providing people with successful treatment methods to enact lasting change.