Is Rehab More Effective Than Jail For Drug-Related Crimes? Because drug use changes brain chemistry, it is not easy to resist temptation and many of those who have recovered will slip up at some point in their lives. Many use this to deny the effectiveness of both rehabilitation and jail. Treatment, however, offers a plethora of benefits for the individual when compared to a prison setting which will help them live more productive lives and curb the likelihood of recidivism.
Effectiveness of Jail
Jail is effective in preventing drug-related crimes only as long as the user is incarcerated. When the user returns to the general population, they often repeat the same crimes because they have not yet dealt with the complex issues that led them to jail in the first place. Additionally, even a short time behind bars significantly affects a person’s ability to get a job and become productive members of society making them even more likely to return to drug use.
According to the US Justice Department, 2/3 of drug offenders will be re-arrested in just three years. Not only are prisoners left to suffer through withdrawal alone, but are taught coping skills completely contrary to everyday living. The famous Stanford Prison Experiment, for example, showed that even psychologically healthy people will become depressed and sadistic when put in an environment similar to prison. Jail has basically become a short-term solution to drug use and drug-related crimes that only worsens the overall problem and sends many into a cycle of arrest, release, and re-arrest.
Effectiveness of Rehab
Treatment differs from jail in many respects and proves to be much more effective than jail by providing a long-term solution to the root problem rather than a short-term punishment. Jail ignores the fact that addiction requires life-long treatment and support. Prevention is proven to be much more successful when offenders are given training, job and life skills, mental treatment, and even help with basic needs like transportation or child care. Even when the treatment is mandated, it has been shown that it can be just as effective as voluntary admission.
Additional Benefits of Treatment
One important aspect of professional inpatient treatment centers is that there is no likelihood of drugs or alcohol getting into the hands of patients. Inpatient care offers a safe, secure environment where patients enjoy comfort and respect at all times, much unlike a prison block where anything goes. Some other benefits are as follows:
- Treatment is less expensive for taxpayers
- Rehabs assist with withdraw symptoms
- Treatment is private rather than something listed on criminal records
- A 24/7 support system compared to some prisons which have inmates in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day
- New friendships and life-skills
The answer is simple and lies within the goals of jail and rehab. Jail is meant to punish the user whereas treatment is designed to help identify and resolve issues that lead to drug use and abuse and attempt to reintegrate them into society. Simply adopting the ‘nothing works’ attitude and locking away drug users does very little to help with our nation’s problem. The fact that drug use and addiction is a life-long battle that requires life-long support should be a huge indicator as to why jails fail to be effective at curbing people’s behavior.