I find Anslinger’s statement concerning substance misusers being “criminals first and addicts afterwards (Hari, 2015, p. 141),” interesting because, from my personal experience, the opposite is true. I think that that statement, if it was true, would help justify the targeting and maltreatment of “offenders” in many people’s minds. Unfortunately, we have many privately owned prisons which are nothing more than a business out to make money. “Notably, a for-profit, private prison’s objective is to maximize shareholders’ value, while the societal objective is to minimize crime efficiently” (Mamun 2020). Condemning another person is easy when they are seen as all bad. What is hard, is finding that balance between empathy and compassion, while still holding that person responsible for their actions. Hari recalls, in his book, a prison psychologist saying the many of the individuals imprisoned for drug use experienced trauma in their background (Hari 2015, p. 109). While I don’t find this statement hard to believe, many people have trauma in their background and did not turn to drug use. I say this to make the point that while I have immense empathy for addicts, they, like everyone else, are still responsible for their own actions. Do I believe that drug use should illegal? Absolutely not! Should people have the right to put whatever substance they want into their own body? Yes! Should they, like all other people be held accountable for their actions? Yes again! I do not like the term “drug related crime” simply because it implies that somehow, the drug, whatever that might be, is responsible to some degree for that person’s action. Either we are responsible for our actions, or we are not… Legally and morally speaking, it can’t be both. I do not believe that imprisonment is the answer for addiction, but certainly holding people accountable for the crimes they do commit, regardless of whether or not they are an addict, is a necessity.
Hari, J. (2015). Chasing the scream: The first and last days of the war on drugs. Bloomsbury.
Mamun, S., Li, X., Horn, B. P., & Chermak, J. M. (2020). Private vs. public prisons? A dynamic analysis of the long-term tradeoffs between cost-efficiency and recidivism in the US prison system. Applied Economics, 52(41), 4499–4511. https://doi-org.portal.lib.fit.edu/10.1080/00036846.2020.1736501
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