Ingrid de Souza Oliveira, Special to The Big Red

Unfortunately in our society there are people who have become addicted to harmful drugs. The user might not see it as an issue but perhaps the people in their lives might. It is easy to judge the addict but nobody knows why or what they have gone through that led them to where they are.

We learn about these substances in school, the government addresses how change will be implemented. Tougher laws will be created to prevent drug abuse but nobody ever helps the case.

Common punishment for being caught with drugs in the US is house arrest, a heavy fine or time in jail. The sentence they receive is dependent on each case, things like the amount of drugs they were caught with, if they are a repeated offender, their race, gender, and financial status.

Not saying that everyone is racist but the numbers show that 1 in 3 black men or 1 in 18 black women are incarcerated compared to 1 in 17 white men or 1 in 111 white women.

Some argue that ‘maybe it’s because they are criminals,’ but given America’s history, there has been substantial amount of cases where discrimination occurred and sadly still does.  

Most drugs are illegal in the US and it is not shocking, there are rules in place and everyone is expected to follow them. It is also not surprising that there are people who obey those rules and there are people who do not.

Now everyone who commits this offence knows that if they are caught there will be consequences. Those are the facts (for the most part). Once they are caught they will more often than not be sent to jail to serve their time where they are held with murders, rapists or other violent offenders.

Drug addicts and dealers are being sent to jail to break their habit.

Theoretically the convict goes to jail, learn their lesson and when they leave they go back into society supposedly better. The prisoners are then expected to continue their lives and not commit the crime of using those drugs again. But that’s usually not the case, why?

Because the issue has not been solved. Sending an addict to jail is not going to help them. They will go to jail as addicts, stay in jail as addicts, and most likely leave jail still being addicts. This also debilitates any opportunity of growth and continuing life.

Most people will get rejected by job openings, kicked out of their homes or being shunned by the community. Leading them back on a repetitive cycle that will not cease until help is provided. We trust the system to help our nation with crime but we are ignorant that maybe some of these people need help.

Felons should be sent to rehabilitation centers where a second chance can be given to them. People who know how to help them recover. The chances of them entering back into society better is fairly greater then just sending them to jail.

Not only would this help them but it would also help the rest of the community knowing that when they get released they got the help they needed. Hopefully taking this approach would help lower drug use and lessen the jails population.