Costa Rica has to step up with rehabilitation proposal

If as you say,”The purpose of drug laws is to reduce consumption,” then it falls upon society to provide an effective rehabilitation program for drug-law offenders. There is certainly no evidence to support the notion that jail time reduces drug consumption but plenty of evidence to suggest that it is a costly and ineffective alternative to drug rehabilitation programs.

“Republican governors and state legislators in such states of Texas, South Carolina, and Ohio are repealing mandatory minimum sentences, increasing opportunities for effective community supervision, and funding drug treatment because they know it will improve public safety and reduce taxpayer costs,” said Tracy Velázquez, executive director of the Washington-based Justice Policy Institute.

So are several other states — egged on by a group of hardline conservatives who have joined the Right on Crime movement. These include Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, former speaker Newt Gingrich, the tax-fighter Grover Norquist and the former attorney general for President Ronald Reagan, Ed Meese.

Studies in Texas and elsewhere agree that treatment and probation services cost about one-tenth of what it costs to build and run prisons. A cost-benefit analysis indicated that every dollar spent on those services was worth $9 and 34 cents in avoided criminal justice costs. Besides that, offenders emerge much less likely to commit fresh crimes than those with similar records who go to prison.

Fiscal General Chavarría may well have come to the same conclusion as his conservative colleagues in the U.S. It is now up to the government of Costa Rica to follow through with the same services,

Ivor Sargent,
Montreal, Canada

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