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Drug treatment in jail is too late

Media Release:
15th August 2008

Drug treatment in jail is too late

The numbers are staggering. NZ now has a total of 6 Drug and Alcohol Units within our Prisons, which can provide places for 500 prisoners each year on intensive 6-month addiction treatment courses –at a cost of $20,000 per prisoner.

Mr Goff cites the justification for these Units as being the “60 per cent of offenders (who) are affected by alcohol or other drugs at the time of their offending and a staggering 83 per cent (who) have abused alcohol or drugs at some point in their lives”.

Sensible Sentencing Trust's Drug Issues Spokesperson, Christine Davey looks at the figures and does the sums: $20,000 per year for 500 prisoners = $10 million per year; plus the $ half-million per week for the benefits paid to known Drug Users who are unable to work and not compelled to receive treatment = $26 million per year; plus $546 million for social costs in one financial year for hardcore drugs P, cocaine and Ecstasy (from the Drug Harm index for 2005-2006). Total: $582 million per year of taxpayer money.

Ms Davey wonders what would it cost the Government to provide an ambulance at the TOP of the cliff by way of intervention in illicit drug use at family request, BEFORE the crimes are committed or the Drug Users become unemployable, thereby reducing the need for and the expenditure required on the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff?

She says that currently this is not possible, because the Drug User has “to want to stop using the drugs” - even though this activity is illegal.

She sees many innocent people falling victim to these Drug Users, including their own family, the people they steal from and abuse, and NZ taxpayers who are funding the treatment at the end of the road. And all because a Drug User's Rights are deemed to be more important than their Responsibilities.

Ms Davey suggests that it's difficult to see where the 'justice' is, when law abiding Nzers are having to wait for life-saving or life-enhancing medical procedures, whilst paying for prisoners to receive help for the results of self-inflicted, illegal activity.


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