NAPW

Facts on Treatment Costs v. Incarceration Costs

  • A recent study by the RAND Corporation found that every additional dollar invested in substance abuse treatment saves taxpayers $7.46 in societal costs.
  • Source: Rydell, C.P. & Everingham, S.S., Controlling Cocaine, Prepared for the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the United States Army, Santa Monica, CA: Drug Policy Research Center, RAND (1994), p. xvi.

  • From 1986 to 1996, the number of women sentenced to state prison for drug crimes increased from 2,370 to 23,700.
  • Sources: Prisoners in 1997, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Washington, DC

  • The women’s prison population increased at an average annual rate of growth of 11.2% from 1985-1996, compared to an annual rate of 7.9% for men. In 1991, 33% of women offenders in state prisons were incarcerated for a drug offense, compared to 21% for men.
  • Sources: Bureau of Justice Statistics, US Department of Justice, Prisoners in 1996, Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office (1997), p. 5; Bureau of Justice Statistics, US Department of Justice, Survey of State Prison Inmates, 1991, Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office (1993, March), p. 4.
  • From 1986 (the year mandatory sentencing was enacted) to 1996, the number of women sentenced to state prison for drug crimes increased ten fold (from around 2,370 to 23,700) and has been the main element in the overall increase in the imprisonment of women.
  • Source: Amnesty International, "Not Part of My Sentence:" Violations of the Human Rights of Women in Custody, Washington, DC: Amnesty International (1999, March), p. 26.
  • More than two-thirds of all women in state prison have children.
  • Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Special Report: Survey of Prison Inmates, 1991 (1997, February), p.10.

  • Treatment reduces participants’ illegal drug use by 40 percent.
  • Source: California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs, Evaluating Recovery Services: The California Drug and Alcohol Treatment Assessment, 1994

  • It's been empirically shown that education and treatment is seven times more cost effective than arrest and incarceration for substance addiction, yet we continue to spend more tax dollars on prisons than treatment. In this 'Land of Liberty', we spend more money on prisons than on schools. We are clearly addicted to mass punishment of consensual 'crimes' on a staggering scale. The sheer magnitude of all the human misery generated in our government's war on it's own people is truly terrifying.
  • Sources: Rydell, C.P. & Everingham, S.S., Controlling Cocaine, Prepared for the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the United States Army, Santa Monica, CA: Drug Policy Research Center, RAND (1994).
    The Lindesmith Center; Ethan Nadlemann, Director
  • In 1996, voters in Arizona passed an initiative which mandated drug treatment instead of prison for non-violent drug offenders. At the end of the first year of implementation, Arizona's Supreme Court issued a report which found: A) Arizona taxpayers saved $2.6 million in one year; B) 77.5% of drug possession probationers tested negative for drug use after the program;
  • The Court stated, "The Drug Medicalization, Prevention and Control Act of 1996 has allowed the judicial branch to build an effective probation model to treat and supervise substance abusing offenders... resulting in safer communities and more substance abusing probationers in recovery."

    Source: State of Arizona Supreme Court. (1999). Drug Treatment and Education Fund: Implementation Full Year Report: Fiscal Year 1997-1998.

  • Treatment programs for women with children (1) strengthen families, (2) reduce youth drug use, (3) reduce crime and violence, (4) reduce and contain health care costs, and (5) support the effective implementation of welfare reform.
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