Letter to the New York Times Responding to “5 Years, or 10? How a Get-Tough Order Would Have Changed Their Lives” | Center on Addiction

Letter to the New York Times Responding to “5 Years, or 10? How a Get-Tough Order Would Have Changed Their Lives”

Letter to the New York Times Responding to “5 Years, or 10? How a Get-Tough Order Would Have Changed Their Lives”

May 22, 2017

Published Letter

To the Editor:

With Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the helm, addiction is a definite prison sentence or death sentence. Mr. Sessions is convinced that prison will help people with addiction recover, once stating, “You have to be able to arrest people and then you’re intervening in their destructive habit.”

There are more than 188,000 inmates in federal prison, about half of whom are drug offenders. This is up from 24,640 total inmates in 1980. The dramatic increase of federal prisoners has been driven by the mentality that putting more people in prison for more time will solve our problems. Yet four times as many people die today from drug overdoses than in 1990.

Mr. Sessions’s approach is both draconian and a proven failure. Treating those with addiction like criminals has never worked and won’t solve our drug epidemic.

Joseph J. Plumeri
The writer is executive chairman of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.

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