The need for an alternative to drug criminalization

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The need for an alternative to drug criminalization

  1. 1. .
  2. 2. Abstract
  3. 3. Introduction
  4. 4. Methods
  5. 5. Results The criminalization of the use of drugs only worsens the situation of the addict, has a high economical cost for society and it haven’t accomplish its purposes. The actual approach to dealing with the consumption of illegal drugs not only haven’t shown that it have fail to avoid the use of the drugs but also have worsen the already bad situations of many addicts by alienating them from the existing resources for treatment of their disease and from society itself. The amount of money that government is spending on law enforcement, the legal system and medical treatment is high and growing, and not necessarily cost effective. Today Puerto Rico is more affected with all the difficulties that the illegal drug business brings that what it were on 1971 when President Nixon declared the war on drugs, this only shows its ineffectiveness and how important is for Puerto Ricans to open their minds to different ideologies of how to deal with this problem. For this and many other reasons Puerto Rico needs to look for an alternative to drug criminalization, may the courageous minded take the first step forward.
  6. 6. The official posture of the National Institute on Drug Abuse of theUnited States about drug addiction is that “Drug Addiction is a chronicdisease like diabetes type II, were factors as biological, environmentaland life style contributes.”(C.Albizu, G.Negrón, A.González, S. Santiago.Revista jurídica UPR). Drug addiction is seems by the world as asickness but is being treated as a criminal matter instead of a healthproblem. They way that governments are trying to solve this problemis by imprisoning law offenders to exclude them from society, in thisway freeing the rest of society from this allegedly criminals, but oftendrug addicts are none violent, with no criminal backgrounds whohappened to get caught while using the drug or having it on themwhile being searched by the police. The problem with this scenario isthat while they might get treatment at the prison, the prison itselfmight lead them to other crimes, mixing none violent offenders withviolent ones, puts pressure on the none violent offenders to be moreaggressive to survive while behind bars and once they get out of prisonsociety might have change a none violent drug addict by a violentcriminal. The criminalization of drugs is proven to be not very effectiveon healing drug addicts.
  7. 7. The recommended consolidated budget for the year 2011-2012 for the Department of Correction and Rehabilitation(Departamento de Corrección y Rehabilitación) and attachedagencies is of $520,560,000.00. The estimate cost for eachprisoner per year in Puerto Rico is about $40,000 the first yearand about $28,000 every other year (Gisela Negrón,Exportación de reos, El Nuevo Día, 2012). This means thatPuerto Rico is spending more than half a billion dollars a yeardealing with the penitentiary system only, not counting thebudget for the Police Department and the judicial system, allof them part of the structure, and still the crime rates relatedto drugs trafficking and usage keeps growing each year. Incontrast the rest of the population perceives their personalsecurity decreasing, and the drug trafficking business is leftwith not many methods to solve their problems but the use ofviolence.
  8. 8. The Institute of Forensic Sciences of Ponce in their publication“Jóvenes y armas de fuego”, the first chart that it shows is about thedistribution of homicides by genre per year since the year 2000, herethey have a total of 735 (661 male and 74 female) for the year 2000,climbing up to 845 homicides (777 males and 68 females) for the year2004 a slowing down to 779 killings in 2008 (729 male and 50 female)and a sudden uphill climb of 1182 murders (1099 male and 82 females)for the year 2011. Not all this killings can be related to drug use ortrafficking but is well accepted by experts that the drug criminalizationis directly or indirectly connected with a majority of the cases due togang wars or the social deterioration that the business of selling drugsbrings to communities.There’s no obvious solution to the problem of drug trafficking andconsumptions but there’s two mayor options being discussed by theworld community, Decriminalization or Legalization of drug use and/ortrafficking. The most problematic part of this discussion is that just onecountry in the world has experimented with the decriminalization andnone have legalized the use and trafficking of drugs.
  9. 9. Portugal wish decriminalized the use and possession for personal usein 2001, has had a mixed bag of results but primordially positive, like adecline in heroine related disease as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B and Cinfections and an increase in people seeking treatment “from 6,040 in1999 to 14,877 in 2003, an increase of 147%” (G.Greenwald, 2009) andas Greenwald also writes, “In fact, for those two critical groups ofyouth (13–15 years and 16–18 years), prevalence rates have declinedfor virtually every substance since decriminalization”. In the other handthe Legalization of drugs hasn’t been tested and no country is nearapproving it. This option is attractive to many because is believed thatit might get similar results as the decriminalization would but inaddition it might end the drug trafficking business and all the violencethat comes with it, also “Legalization would reduce state and federaldeficits by eliminating expenditure on prohibition enforcement --arrests, prosecutions, and incarceration -- and by allowinggovernments to collect tax revenue on legalized sales,” (J. Miron, K.Waldock, 2010). Of course this hasn’t been proven yet and neitherPuerto Rico, the U.S. or any other country is getting near to try it,being the U.S. the principal opponent to the Idea.
  10. 10. Conclusion. All in all, Puerto Rico and the world are in front of a very complex choice, and there’s no decision that will satisfy every senate seat, every vote or every citizen. The future is uncertain sometimes unpredictable, and it looks dark and scary for many in the world especially does that have surfer the pain of the violence that the drug business and abuse carries with it, but also there’s two sides on every coin and many people has surfer in their life the collateral damage that the criminalization of drugs brings within. If something is for certain is that the status quo is not the consensus the experts and probably within the community. There’s a real need for the world to decide for a new strategy to deal with the drug business problem, it might be possible that the real solution is not the decriminalization or the legalization of drugs but those are the two options that the world has right now in front of it. There will always be space for new ideas and open ears to listen to them but what is always hard to find are the brave leaders that take the decisions, the actions and the responsibilities that comes with them and that with courageous hearts take the first step towards the future.

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