Many people are arrested and go to jail because of drugs. But, why do they go to jail? What happens after they leave prison?
The state of Michigan’s Kalamazoo County has experienced a surge in arrests relating to meth (methamphetamine). In October, 2018, Kalamazoo County sheriff Richard Fuller said that his county’s jail had 100 more people than it did at the same time in 2017.
Fuller said that many of the people incarcerated in Kalamazoo County’s jail were there because of crimes related to methamphetamine (meth) use, such as larceny. People might steal money or items to pay for meth and then face arrests for such thefts.
In the United States, about 78,000 people are behind bars due to drug-related crimes, according to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons. While this incarceration obviously affects their freedom, it also has other repercussions.
People who are in prison are not physically with their families. Prisoners cannot give their family members day-to-day support and receive such support in turn. This might hurt children who miss the steady presence of a parent or hurt imprisoned people who would benefit from the support of loved ones. Imprisonment also impairs people’s abilities to earn incomes and provide for themselves and their families. Imprisonment can thus hurt families emotionally and financially.
Going to prison could also impact people’s health. Some prisons have rehabilitation facilities, but some do not. If people are withdrawing from heavy drug use, they could experience a number of serious withdrawal symptoms.
There are solutions to such problems. One of the solutions is not sending people to prison in the first place. Kalamazoo County commissioner Julie Rogers said that the county has established programs to help people who have drug problems and steal low-value items. People who enter these programs don’t go to jail, which improves their future prospects and helps ensure that the county’s jail doesn’t become overcrowded.
Preventative assistance can prevent drug-related offenses from destroying entire lives and helps people contribute to their communities. According to Commissioner Rogers, the programs can transform a person into “a productive member of society.”