(KCPW News) Salt Lake County’s District Attorney isn’t surprised by a new report from the Global Commission on Drug Policy that says the War on Drugs has failed with devastating consequences. Sim Gill notes the United States spends in excess of $60 billion a year incarcerating people for drug crimes, compared to about $6 billion in the 1970s. He says those who profit from drug trafficking and exploit others’ addictions should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law…
“But those who you find who have become addicted, simply using a punitive model is not going to give us that result that we want. We can’t jail our way out of it. We can’t arrest our way out of it,” says Gill. “And what the data seems to show is that you need to address the issues of substance abuse and addiction not by jailing people, but by actually getting them into treatment.”
Gill says the U.S. will bankrupt itself if it continues along this pattern. But he adds people would be surprised to know that Utah is fairly innovative when it comes to drug courts and alternatives to incarceration.
“The drug court movement and the drug court option in Utah have found great success, lowing recidivism rates for those who find themselves in the criminal justice system,” he told KCPW. “So I think Utah has been on a very progressive and innovative side of addressing substance abuse addictions and we seem to be making some great gains in that respect.”
Gill says it’s easy to be seduced by zero tolerance drug policies, but winning the battle requires both a strong and smart approach.
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