New York Drug Offenders Being Sent to Rehab Instead of Prison
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New York has always had notoriously stringent drug laws, but a new set of laws are now placing many drug offenders out of prison and into treatment, according to a new study.
The study, conducted by the Vera Institute of Justice, examined the percentage of drug offenders that were sent to mandatory drug treatment before and after the dismantling of the Rockefeller Drug Laws. In 2009, when the Rockefeller Drug Laws were first abolished, roughly 15% of the city’s drug offenders were sent to mandatory treatment. Now, that number has risen to 21%.
The increase in drug offenders being sent to treatment versus incarceration is important because it affects the rate of recidivism. Those who were sent to treatment were found to have a 36% chance of being arrested again within two years, compared to 54% for those who were incarcerated.
Study lead Jim Parsons said the changes in policy are a step in the right direction, but is concerned there is still a degree of racial inequality in terms of sentencing.
“The law was changed after decades of advocacy…[and] it did make a difference,” Parsons said. “The system is still not equal in terms of sentencing for these offenses.”
While the research also discovered the new treatment regime cost an additional $7.3 million, the long-term benefit of reduced drug use is worth far more.