Rehabilitating the System?

“Nearly 80% of drug offenders in prison have never been convicted of a violent felony; about half have never even been arrested for one.” Let that figure sink in for a little bit. As New York eases the infamous Rockefeller Drug Laws, legislators and social workers in NYC are once again faced with the question of how our society ought to deal with drug use and addiction. Whatever they decide, we certainly know that the laws were not working. It is high time we “look outside our eyes…think outside our brain…walk outside our life to where the neighborhood changes.” For a while now, we have been losing the war on drugs, relying on harsh punishments instead of rehabilitation as if turning a blind eye on a problem has ever worked as a solution.

Addiction — a psychological condition — is a variable that we never considered when we first wrote up all of the various punitive equations. I’m not sure what these changes will eventually add up to, but it’s become glaringly apparent: The answer does not lie behind bars.