Jail Doesn't Help Addicts. Let's Stop Sending Them There.

Misti Barrickman has scoliosis. Since she was a teenager, it's been debilitating. It hurt to lie down. It hurt to stand up.

She started taking Oxycontin to help with the pain and became addicted. She came to Seattle to find large quantities of the drug. Unable to find it and feeling increasingly desperate, Misti tried what was readily available: heroin. For the next seven years, she struggled with addiction. She lived between a tent and a jail cell, racking up charges for possession and prostitution.

Her story is all too common.

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Almost 30,000 people were arrested for drugs in New York in 2012. Over 117,000 people were arrested for drugs in California in the same year. Nearly 10,700 people were arrested for drugs in Washington that year.

Some of these people, like Misti, have been arrested multiple times – their addictions haven't been helped by stint after stint behind bars. Too often, the cycle just keeps repeating itself.

Seattle is trying something different.

Since 2012, the city's Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program (LEAD) cuts out the criminal justice middleman. Instead of jailing people struggling with addiction, officers connect people directly with the treatment and services that can actually help them get sober.

Instead of wasting time and money with a court hearing and saddling people with a criminal record before they can access treatment and services, LEAD doesn't waste time. And unlike drug courts, LEAD participants who relapse are not threatened with jail time and expulsion from the program.

For the people we interviewed, the program is working. Misti's been sober now for two years. She no longer lives in a tent, and her pain is under control. She is in school. The latest video in our "OverCriminalized" series – produced in partnership with Brave New Films and The Nation – tells Misti's story and the story of others whose lives have improved after police took them to services, not to jail.

For decades, this country has been waging a failed war on drugs. Drug use hasn't gone down. Drugs are just as available as they used to be. Instead of solving our drug problem, we've become a society that seemingly disregards millions of lives – particularly the lives of black and brown people.

Although the majority of people who use and deliver drugs in Seattle are white, the black drug arrest rate was 13 times higher than the white drug arrest rate in 2006. Aggressive over-policing has ravaged communities. Large swaths of the population have been locked up. And billions of dollars have been wasted that could have been much better spent on interventions that could have actually changed the course of people's lives.

Drug addiction has become one of the many social problems that we've relegated to the criminal justice system. But as with homelessness and mental illness, handcuffs and jail cells haven't made things better and have cost much more than the treatment and services that can. It doesn't have to be this way. America can safely reduce our reliance on incarceration. Several states have reduced their prison populations while crime rates have dropped.

Addiction should not be a crime.

"OverCriminalized," a new series produced Brave New Films in partnership with the ACLU and The Nation, profiles three promising and less expensive interventions that may actually change the course of people's lives. It's time to roll back mass criminalization and focus on what works.

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Anonymous

If they put all the addicts who aren't interested in stopping (almost all) in a special rehab, it would and up being worse than any jail.

Sending people to a lock-down "rehab" jail that costs $25,000 a month per "client" isn't a solution. What is required is make drug use so undesireable people hit their painful emotional "bottoms" sooner. So they are willing to do the work.

Science has no cure for the addict who isn't really committed to doing the work.

It's the most common thing in the world... an addict hits bottom, gets clean, is working their program... sort of... for a while.... enough to get by... life gets better, so much better they figure they can get high again, they do, they OD.

Our society is plagued by the myth that artificially manipulating our mood is a sustainable way to live a satisfying life. As opposed to the quality of the life we lead. What we do. How we treat others. Feeling good by living a good life.

Anonymous

this shit is so sick on the part of judges and police its got to stop,. these people need help not incartion.There should be no prisons but only help centers

walton ford

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Michael Smith

People should be allowed to take whatever drug that they want any time that they want. What rank do you have to restrict us you're at we are not your slaves. When you make a law that I can't use a drug you're implying that you own me. These people need to start minding their own business and people that use drugs need to become militant. At one time homosexuality was not accepted and now they are. So why can't people accept us. You have to learn to tolerate other people we're not all the same. I don't care how much tobacco and alcohol you use that's your business. So you should mind your business to let me mine mine. What right does the government have to kidnap people and put them in prison just because they want to use drugs. The government is worse. I am certain the founding fathers would not approve of what the government does. Adults that use Drugs That's A Private Matter.

Anonymous

Adults that use drugs that do not harm anybody else is in fact a private matter Michael. The unfortunate problem is that many, many people that use drugs are forced to do illegal things in order to get the money to support their habits. In addition, the depraved behavior that hardcore addicts stoop to can scarcely be believed until one witnesses it. I know heroin addicts that have given up their newborn child simply because they couldn't be bothered to deal with him. I know gangs of criminals that will lie, steal, and manipulate anyway they can to get money out of people. Here's a fun trick to try Michael. Look up somebody you know convicted of felony possession on Facebook. Now start looking up their friends on the states Court case information system online. Well, what do you know? You'll find friend after friend having been convicted of a felony possession. Now look up those friends on Facebook and see which of their friends have been convicted of felony possession. Start out with one single guy in Orange Virginia and before you know it you've identified a vast network of addicts and criminals. And what do the courts do when one of them is found with 20 bags of heroin while they're out turning tricks? They waste the taxpayers money sending them through 28 days in a corrupt rehab facility and then put them back on the street. And when they're back on the street, they hook up with all the new buddies they made while they were in the corrupt rehab facility. If these pieces of useless human trash sat in the corner and shot up all day and didn't bother anybody I could care less. But they're out on the streets turning tricks and spreading disease, stealing, and scamming people out of money. So strictly speaking Michael, you're absolutely right. Keeping drugs illegal just makes really bad guys richer and keeps funding to law enforcement flowing. But the actual costs to society are mind-bogglingly massive, not just in terms of money, but in pure human misery. I'm not making any of this up. I witnessed it first-hand. I actually agree to an extent. Maybe the drugs themselves should not be illegal. But the justice system is broken and corrupt and innocent people are getting badly, badly hurt. And in my humble opinion, that is a far more urgent problem to be dealt with than the decriminalization of drugs.

tracy05

Hello everyone, i am Stacy for united states, i was married to a man i loved so much, that i could not do without him, he was so addicted to me but after some time i lost him to one of his slay workers, he turned against me that i cried all day, after which i told my mom and she directed me to a great doctor from Africa, after he worked for me my husband was back begging me i was so surprised we are living together now, if you are out there you are DEPRESSED, SICK, NEED YOUR EX LOVER BACK, NEED A SPELL TO WIN THE LOTTERY, GET PROMOTED AT WORK, GET PREGNANT AND HAVE YOUR OWN BABY, CURE NY TYPE OF DISEASE, contact the great Dr Ebore at. dreborespellcaster@hotmail.com.. his web-page is. eboresolutionhome.webs.com.. indeed doctor you are great..

kate nick

i want to share this great and wonderful testimony to the general public on how i got cured from my sickness called (HEPATITIS B) by DR OGUN healing herbal medicine , I have been suffering from (HEPATITIS B) for good 6 years now and I was almost going to the end of my life due to the constant pain, especially in my LIVER . all I have in my mind is let me just give up because life was no longer intestine to me any more but I just pray to God every day to accept my soul when ever I die, luckily to me , my kid sister ran to me that she found a doctor in the internet who can cure (HEPATITIS B, HERPES,CANCER, and HIV/AIDS ) she helped me out on everything, the great Dr OGUN only ask for my Details and some items , so that he can prepare a Herbal medicine for me and send it to me in my country , which i did.. so after two days of getting the medicine and taking it as prescribe to me from him , I started getting more stronger my blood started flowing normally , i started experiencing changes all over my Body as the great DR OGUN assured me that i should go for medical check up that i have been cured, so after some time i went to my doctor to confirmed if i have be finally healed , behold it was TRUE and i was very Happy ,so if you have HERPES , HEPATITIS B ,CANCER , HIV/AIDS or any kind of sickness YOU HAVE , you can contact him and, any illness get cured, i advice you all to contact him on Via mail at drogunrootherds@outlook.com or drogunrootherbal@gmail.com

kate nick

i want to share this great and wonderful testimony to the general public on how i got cured from my sickness called (HEPATITIS B) by DR OGUN healing herbal medicine , I have been suffering from (HEPATITIS B) for good 6 years now and I was almost going to the end of my life due to the constant pain, especially in my LIVER . all I have in my mind is let me just give up because life was no longer intestine to me any more but I just pray to God every day to accept my soul when ever I die, luckily to me , my kid sister ran to me that she found a doctor in the internet who can cure (HEPATITIS B, HERPES,CANCER, and HIV/AIDS ) she helped me out on everything, the great Dr OGUN only ask for my Details and some items , so that he can prepare a Herbal medicine for me and send it to me in my country , which i did.. so after two days of getting the medicine and taking it as prescribe to me from him , I started getting more stronger my blood started flowing normally , i started experiencing changes all over my Body as the great DR OGUN assured me that i should go for medical check up that i have been cured, so after some time i went to my doctor to confirmed if i have be finally healed , behold it was TRUE and i was very Happy ,so if you have HERPES , HEPATITIS B ,CANCER , HIV/AIDS or any kind of sickness YOU HAVE , you can contact him and, any illness get cured, i advice you all to contact him on Via mail at drogunrootherds@outlook.com or drogunrootherbal@gmail.com

Anonymous

One of my best friend suffering from alcohol addiction and we are trying to recover him from addiction. I need to share the experience and also need to learn or discuss about alcohol withdrawal symptoms and side effect.

I have read many blogs on alcohol withdrawal Symptoms
medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000764.htm
http://www.addictionrehabcenters.com/drug-addiction/alcohol-abuse-addiction/

John

The court system needs to realize jail is not the answer they need a rehab center when when addicts go into jail they come out worse than they went in so the court system really needs to stop putting these people in jail and getting some type of rehab centers so they can get clean and work towards getting a job and getting some type of help in their life

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