As Governor David Paterson moves to overhaul New York State’s Rockefeller drug laws, legislators, prosecutors, and law enforcement officials need to throw their weight behind an established treatment program that offers so much more than just an alternative to incarceration. The model is long-term, residential, therapeutic community (TC) treatment. Now more than 40 years old, the TC is an established, accredited, and respected treatment of choice for chronic substance abusers recognized by the National Institute on Drug Abuse as well as law enforcement officials, prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges. This tested model was developed in New York to both mitigate the harsher elements of our state’s drug laws and it is testament to the treatment model’s success and durability that it is now a national standard for targeting addiction-fueled nonviolent crime.
The TC is not only cheaper than prison (approximately $20,000 per bed, per year), it is more effective in reducing recidivism and helping addicts get and stay sober. Helping addicted individuals improve their education, train for and get a job, find housing, and reunite with family are the bedrock benefits of this adaptable and flexible model. Punishing addicts has cost our State millions – perhaps billions – of dollars for very little in return, while treating addiction saves taxpayers seven to one for every dollar spent. It is incontrovertible that greater justice, individual rehabilitation, and cost savings will result from sentencing reform.
Peter Provet, Ph.D.
President & Chief Executive Officer
Odyssey House & Odyssey Foundation