Please post your comments and suggestions for this article.

Comment by Daniel C. Jones on August 9th, 2011 at 4:16 pm

RE: ‘Substance abusers suffer from psychological and physical addictions, and in many cases have not necessarily broken any laws. Whereas Criminals have often voluntarily opted to committ illegal or violent acts.’
There is something wrong with this declaration which is the foundation of our Nations Failure to effectively treat Criminality. Start with alcoholism. Do you know how many alcoholics will readily admit to drinking alcohol before the age of 21? I don’t know for sure but will look into it before I refute your claim. Drug addicts in every instance today have broken several laws makeing them Criminals way before Drug Addicts. Nowhere in the United States is it legal to purchase heroin, cook and inject it. Perhaps it has been documented that addiction occurs after the first injection of heroin, cocain or crystal methamphetamine but it is psychological and can just as easily be defined as a voluntary decision as criminality. In any case, addiction does not motivate criminality as can clearly be shown by the fact that three crimes must be committed before a future addict ingests his or her drug of choice. Those are 1) Purchase of a controlled substance 2) Possession of a Controlled Substance, and 3) Internal Possession of a Controlled Substance. Before a person can call oneself a one time user, he or she has already committed enough felonies to earn Three Strikes or Career Criminal Status in the United States.
Alcoholism was not defined as a disease until recently. But once it was accepted as a disease the successful treatment of Alcoholics was made possible. Drug addiction followed suit and now in 2011 the Drug Dealer is not portrayed the same way in the 70’s and 80’s when movies like Scarface depictin the life of a cocaine dealer established themselves as cultural icons that still can be accessed today. Now society is more apt to define the Scarfaces of today as individuals who prey on the weakness of addicts who suffer even greater when the disease is untreated. The definition of Alcoholism and Drug Addiction as a disease allowed the development of a program that not only boasts a high rate of successful treatment, but also managed to positively shape public opinion regarding the alcoholic /drug addict which largely eliminated public condemnation, preventing the isolation from Society which is now the key element behind Criminal Recidivism in America.
In order for Crime to be reduced to a manageable circumstance a Scientific Definition must be established that follows the guidelines set by the Founder of Alcoholcs Anonymous. Now I must confess the need for greater research with a promise that I will get back to you with data supporting the definition of Criminality as a disease. I would like to know where your proof of criminality defined as voluntary act is supported so I can research this as well. Thankyou and please think about the unique position you are in to effect a positive change in so many American lives today. The current definition of Criminality is ill concieved and has demonstrably harmful consequences.

Comment by Jennifer Tanabe on August 17th, 2011 at 10:27 am

Thank you for your thoughtful feedback. I will review the article to clarify some of the points you raised.

In response to your comment about the criminality of addicts – the sentence that states “There are marked differences between substance abusers and convicted criminals: Substance abusers suffer from psychological and physical addictions, and many (like alcoholics) have not necessarily broken any laws, whereas criminals have often voluntarily opted to commit illegal or violent acts” is not incorrect. While there are legal drinking ages these vary and often do not apply to the consumption of alcohol in the home. It seems reasonable that a 50 year old alcoholic would not be considered to have broken any laws in terms of his alcohol consumption, and any underage drinking decades previously would no longer be prosecutable if it ever was. Those who become addicted to prescription drugs also do not break any laws until their physician stops prescribing the drugs and they resort to illegal methods to obtain them. Thus, there are also drug addicts who have broken no laws.

Thank you again for your comments. As noted above, I will review the article to clarify the statements.

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