Rehabilitation vs. Incarceration
The United States leads the world in the number of people incarcerated in federal and state correctional facilities. There are currently more than 2 million people in American prisons or jails. The United States incarcerates more people for drug offenses than any other country. With an estimated 6.8 million Americans struggling with drug abuse or dependence, the growth of the prison population continues to be driven largely by incarceration for drug offenses. Treatment delivered in the community is one of the most cost-effective ways to prevent such crimes and costs approximately $20,000 less than incarceration per person per year. A study by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy found that every dollar spent on drug treatment in the community yields over $18 in cost savings related to crime.
Georgia leads the nation in the number of adults under correctional authority, yet Georgia has proposed to cut funding for substance abuse prevention and treatment by 24%. In Georgia we are locking people up because they have a disease called drug addiction. Because historically our state leaders have failed to recognize that drug addiction is a treatable disease and that treatment is more effective than incarceration, the cyclical effects of drug addiction has been a drain on the state’s economy and society as a whole from the cost of incarceration to the cost of health care for the addict and his family to the cost of childcare or foster care. The consequences of alcohol and drug abuse are the single greatest drain on state budgets. It is estimated that almost 50% of all inmates incarcerated for a drug-related offense or who are known drug abusers will return to jail or prison at some time in the future.
The relationship between crime and substance abuse is clear. And equally clear is the fact that incarceration and the threat of incarceration alone does very little to reduce the rate of chemical dependency. It is time for Georgians to rise up and demand that the legislators and courts begin to implement rehabilitation like at Freedom where the client is footing the bill—not the taxpayers.
When Yobel was founded in 2004, Jay Neal, the Pastor at Gordon Lake Wesleyan Church, was asked to be on the advisory board. Jay had recently run for the position of Georgia State Representative for the First District. He won the election but lost in the court battle that ensued because he had unseated a 17-year incumbent with deep ties to long established political roots in the local and state court system. Jay agreed to serve on the board and soon afterwards entered in another race for the same position.
Before the election, the men in the Yobel house began attending the Gordon Lake Wesleyan Church and Jay began to have his opinion of addicts and addictions reshaped. Jay began to see that the solution to the meth problem permeating the Northwest Georgia area was not to incarcerate more and more and build more and more prisons but to give the addicted person the opportunity for rehabilitation instead of incarceration. INCARCERATION IS NOT REHABILITATIVE! IT IS PUNITIVE AND IT HAS BEEN PROVEN THAT IT DOES NOT EFFECTIVELY CURB ADDICTION! Jay began to understand that drug dependency or addiction is a disease not unlike other diseases prone to relapse such as diabetes. Because of the awakening that Jay experienced, he was prepared to become an instrument of God in the House of Representatives as he became known as the advocate for drug rehalitation and prevention in the Legislature.
David Burris and Jay Neal have worked together on the front of establishing an annual Recovery Awareness Day at the capitol. David and the Freedom Counseling Services staff have also worked with many attorneys throughout Georgia—both District Attorneys and attorneys for defendants to set up alternative sentencing that would be both acceptable to courts and beneficial for the client to receive treatment with the stipulation of completing treatment or face incarceration.
If you have a loved one that is facing incarceration because of the disease of addiction and you know that he needs rehabilitation, please call the staff at Freedom and let them assist you and your loved one in securing alternative sentencing that includes treatment in lieu of incarceration.