Sunday, September 4, 2011

Addiction and the Criminal Justice System


What do you think is the number one cause of crime in modern society?  Some people would say poverty, low moral behavior, or just the general propensity of many Americans to commit crimes.  These are definitely some factors associated with our high crime rate, but the fundamental problem that leads to the filling of our prisons and courthouses is clearly addiction. 

Addiction to chemical substances is involved in almost every single drug case that appears on the felony drug case docket.  The defendant is usually either addicted to the drug itself, selling the drug, or in some cases involved in trafficking activities.  Sometimes the defendant is addicted and selling at the same time.  This happens often when the addict must make money to support the drug habit. 

Addiction does not just affect the community with generating drug cases.  Violent crimes are often associated with substance abuse.  In looking back on the numerous family violence cases that I have handled, I can probably count on one hand the number of arrests that did not involve excessive drinking or drug use. 

Many armed robberies, aggravated assaults, and even murders are committed by defendants who are high on drugs at the time of the criminal act.  In those circumstances, the defendant’s addiction often leads him to the state penitentiary and the victim to the hospital or morgue. 

What about theft related crimes such as burglary, embezzlement, and financial type fraud.  Yes, addiction is heavily involved in many of these cases.  While some people are just simply thieves, many people charged with theft offenses take money and property to feed the insatiable appetite of their addiction. 

Addiction even contributes to a higher rate of sexual offenses committed in our community.  While many sex offenders are pre-disposed to commit these type of crimes, the abuse of drugs and alcohol lower their inhibitions and pave the way for them to engage in criminal conduct. 

So, what can be done to address the problem of addiction?  Unfortunately, the options are limited and the outlook uncertain.  Our local courts have already committed to addressing the problem with addiction through the use of drug courts, drug testing, mandatory drug treatment, and other oversight measures.  Many people do recover from addiction with help from the courts.  I have found that in some cases, the defendant’s life was actually saved by having to go to jail. 

I believe that the more educated our citizens are about addiction, the better our society will be.  Addiction is not often easy for people to talk about.  Sometimes it is a subject that people and families want to sweep under the rug.  The quicker that people are willing to talk about and learn about addiction, the better off we will be as a community. 
I believe that the Devil has a wide assortment of tools he uses to undermine the good of man.  However, his favorite tool in the workshop must be the tool of addiction.  Its effectiveness and wide path of destruction are unsurpassed.  

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