AMERICA’S INEFFECTIVE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM, A PARADOX
By Richard E. “Rick” Dennis CPP
Freelance Writer and Author
December 20, 2022
© All Rights Reserved
DRUGS, ALCOHOL, ADDICTION, AND CRIME
As a former Drug Enforcement Special Agent and Law Enforcement Professional of 18 years, I witnessed; first hand, the devastating effects drug and alcohol addiction impacts a free society. After all, I was on the first line of defense on the War on Drugs being waged by law enforcement and the Federal Government. As enforcement agents it was our job to investigate, arrest, incarcerate, prosecute, and imprison as many illegal drug manufactures, importers, and distributors as we could.
During my journey, I discovered a myriad important facts concerning our efforts in the War on Drugs with one fact standing out as the most important: The United States of America has a dysfunctional and disingenuous judicial system. As one judicial authority once told me, “In the War on Drugs, the courtroom is a hole in the ground drug violators throw money into to keep judges and lawyers in business.”
During my 18 year tenure, I also learned other important lessons such as: Our judicial system is to slow and inundated with too many laws to maintain pace with the drug and alcohol offenders being arrested and prosecuted. However, perhaps the most important lesson I learned was: Repeat offenders were slipping through the judicial cracks and were being denied the opportunities for rehabilitation and mental health counseling they deserved in order to break the cycle of drug abuse and addiction.
Today, not much has changed in the USA’s War on Drugs. More specifically, drug offenders are being arrested, prosecuted, and imprisoned in record numbers, court rooms are packed with violators, prisons are overcrowded with drug offender inmates, repeat offenders are common place in our society and the courtroom, police officers are still dying in the line of duty as two of my partners did during gun fights, more drugs are being illegally imported in the USA than ever before, the hole in the ground called a court room is still collecting fines, drug addicts aren’t receiving the treatment and mental health services they deserve to break the chain of addiction, and the USA is still losing the War on Drugs.
DRUG AND ALCOHOL ABUSE, ADDICTION, AND CRIME
The National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics report: 1.6 million Americans including Illegal Aliens are arrested annually for drug related crimes, 80% of all incarcerated prison inmates abuse illegal drugs or alcohol. An estimated 244 thousand Americans are sentenced annually to prison for drug related crimes. Furthermore, 26% of all arrests in America are related to drug offenses.
Even though the percentage of drug related arrests are small in comparison to the overall population of the USA, drug related crimes represent the highest category of violent crimes. Example: It’s estimated that as much as 80% of all violent crimes committed by individuals in the USA are drug related. Violent crime categories including: Gun and other weapons violence (assaults), Rape, Robbery, Murder, Car Jacking, and Burglary.
However, the reasons for these drug related violent crimes can be broken down into three sub segments or groups as the “Root Cause Contributing Factors.” More specifically:
1) Crimes committed while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
2) Economic related crimes to support their drug or alcohol addiction. Example: Robbery, Burglary, Theft, Drug Dealing, and Prostitution are the five main crimes committed in order to support drug and alcohol abuse and addiction.
3) System-related crimes are those that result from how drugs are sold and how the criminal justice system deals with drug dealers. These crime categories include: The manufacture, importation, transporting, and distribution (selling) of drugs as well as the violence produced by the illegal drug trade activities such as: Street and Gang Violence as well as Turf Wars among domestic drug dealers and international drug cartels.
Notwithstanding, the root causes of addiction are: CHRONIC STRESS, a history of trauma, mental illness and a family history of addiction. Understanding how these can lead to chronic substance abuse and addiction will help an individual in reducing his or her chances of becoming addicted, re-entering a life of crime, and staying out of prison and that hole in the ground called a courtroom.
ALCOHOL ABUSE AND ADDICTION
The FBI cites drunkenness or public intoxication as a crime, it is labeled a misdemeanor crime in order to prevent the drunk person from disturbing or hurting others. Alcohol related crimes include drunk driving and homicide. Approximately 316,032 Americans are arrested for drunkenness annually, 10,511 deaths annually are attributed to drunk driving, 7,334 homicides annually have alcohol as a contributing factor, and 48% of homicide convicts were drinking before they committed murder.
TREATING DRUG ABUSE AND ADDICTION IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
“According to an article appearing in the American Medical Association, despite increasing evidence that addiction is a treatable disease of the brain, most individuals do not receive treatment. Involvement in the criminal justice system often results from illegal drug seeking behavior and participation in illegal activities that reflect, in part, disrupted behavior ensuing from brain changes triggered by repeated drug use. Treating drug involved offenders provides a unique opportunity to decrease substance abuse and reduce associated criminals behavior.”
However, while incarcerated the addict may or may not be sentenced to a drug rehabilitation program which, essentially, produces a revolving door effect for offenders missing out on this vital opportunity to break the chains of addiction. Therefore, the offender is paroled from prison and in a matter of time re-enters the illegal drug trade and addiction. In order to win the War on Drugs, in the USA, the judicial system has to revamp its laws and drug offenders need to receive proper mental health. Until this occurs, the wheels of justice will still turn slowly, the majorly of drug offenders will become repeat offenders, and judges and lawyers will have a steady income.
LEGAL DRUG ADDICTION AND ABUSE
Another contributing factor in the War on Drugs are classified as professional addicts. All on their own, Big Pharma and Physicians are producing a significant number of addicts with their prescribed drugs; especially drugs of the opioid variety or Class II through V drugs, which can be entered into a classification of their own. After all, pharmaceuticals drugs are big business representing billions of dollars in annual revenues. Patients are being prescribed highly addictive drugs and Physicians are being paid by the pharmaceutical companies to prescribe certain drugs, some of which are highly addictive.
Will the USA win the War on Drugs, probably not. Simply, there are too many variables in the equation, of Justice, to disrupt the cycle of addiction and crime related drug offenses and not enough drug addicts are receiving the drug treatment and mental health options and services they need, in order to break the cycle of addiction and the crime that goes along with it!
“UNTIL NEXT TIME, KEEP EM BETWEEN THE BRIDLE”
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Richard E. "Rick" Dennis
Freelance Writer and Author