Substance abuse is a common occurrence in the United States. Jails and prisons in America are crammed with substance abusers who were arrested for possession of an illegal substance, selling the same, or committing a crime to support a drug habit.
In his blog that appeared in nj.com, David Kerr suggests a fresh look at treating the substance abuse problems of what he calls “addict inmates.” Kerr advocates for giving those prisoners a say in their treatment, and a stake in their future. Kerr recommends a treatment program that allows addict inmates to be proactive rather than passive participants in programs designed without incentives to succeed.
Kerr also has a problem with the word “reentry” as applied to prisoners being released to the community. Kerr believes the term conveys a false sense of seamless transportation from the cruel, harsh environment of prison to a carefree life on the outside. Kerr prefers the term “reintegration’ which he thinks is more descriptive of the rough time released prisoners have trying to stay off of drugs and attempting to overcome the barriers a criminal conviction puts in place. Kerr asserts that the process of reintegrating can take years, and in some cases, a lifetime.
Kerr calls for innovative ideas including redesigning programs that are based on the inmate addict, not the department of corrections, and using modern technology, such as Skype, to connect inmates with community drug programs and service providers that link the inmate with available resources while in prison, instead of waiting until release. While Kerr’s ideas might seem unconventional, they bear consideration, given that current methods of treating addict inmates are not exactly working.