The nonpartisan Texas Criminal Justice Coalition says the state should stop locking up so many drug offenders and invest more in substance abuse treatment.
A report the advocacy group released today says arrests for drug possession have skyrocketed and far outnumber arrests for drug delivery or distribution.
Executive Director Ana Yanez-Correa says the root of the problem is addiction, and she says addiction isn’t taken care of behind bars.
“People historically have thought, ‘Well, you just put somebody in prison and maybe they’ll clean up,’” Yanez-Correa said. “Well, maybe they’re not getting the drugs in prison. It does take them away from that situation. But because there is no drug treatment within prison, they come right back and they’ll recidivate.”
The report says the cost of putting an offender in a drug treatment program is one-fifth of the cost of putting them in jail.
A bill filed by State Sen. Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) would allow judges to place some offenders on probation with a drug treatment program.