Free Paper Sample on Corrections: Treatment Vs. Punishment for Drug Offenders

Published: 2023-12-19
Free Paper Sample on Corrections: Treatment Vs. Punishment for Drug Offenders
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Criminal justice Behavior Drug abuse
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1654 words
14 min read

Correctional facilities face the challenge of congestion due to the increase in the number of people convicted in drug-related cases. Most people interact with the criminal justice system due to their involvement in criminal activities while under the influence of illicit drugs while others participate in drug-seeking conduct. The increased prison population causes a strain on the budget as the resources allocated are inadequate to cater to many inmates. It implies that punishing drug offenders contributes to the escalation of the population in correctional facilities. More so, most of them extend their drug usage in prison due to the already developed addictive behavior. Some drug users usually relapse after getting out of jail where they go back to their drug abuse behavior and end up engaging in crime, resulting in reincarceration. Thus, treatment of the offenders involved in drug-linked crimes is essential in lowering criminal conduct and decreasing the usage of illicit drugs. Also, it aids in boosting public health and safety, and it makes the accessibility of the treatment possible to those who cannot afford it. Consequently, it will help in reducing the overcrowding in the corrections. For this reason, this essay will offer a vivid and elaborate discussion of the significance of treatment compared to the punishment of drug offenders.

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The idea of punishing offenders has its foundation in the intent of retribution, which focuses on ensuring that they receive incarceration as a mechanism for regulating criminal activities (Mitchell et al., 2017). The proponents of punishment via imprisonment believe that it has the capability of enabling potential offenders to deter the crime. Also, those convicted in drug-related cases act as an example of what happens when an individual commits a similar offense, which is vital in preventing others from engaging in the crime. It implies that the sentencing accorded to individual aid manifests that the punishment for engaging in criminal activity is not worth their loss of freedom. However, returning to environments that have the attribute of high drug usage may trigger the compulsion to use drugs. Despite the long period of abstinence while in prison, there is a need for continued treatment after an individual serves their term and goes back to the community.

Advocates of punishment for drug offenders predispose that convicting the latter aids in reducing their recidivism rate as the magnitude of the previous sentence will facilitate their deterrence (Sloas & Atkin-Plunk, 2019). On the contrary, individuals who have drug addiction problems usually find a way of obtaining them while in prison despite the high regulation and structuring level. Besides, the implementation of abstinence strategies in the criminal justice system may be less effective as the probability of relapse in post-incarceration is very high for addicts of drug abuse. Their vulnerability to relapsing increases as they face difficulties in the outside world, which may cause stress.

One of the challenges they experience is stigmatization, which results in alienation from the community and the activities involved as they receive tags such as ex-convicts. Most people fear being associated with them, while others avoid them intentionally and openly. Despite having served their jail term and reformed, nobody believes in them and their abstinence from drug abuse. Some have difficulties in reuniting with their families as the rejection intensifies. Others face the economic challenge of providing for their basic needs, such as food, housing, and clothing, as they lack legitimate employment based on having a criminal record (Mitchell et al., 2017). All these aspects usually increase stress, which challenges the ex-offenders sobriety and heightens their probability of relapsing to the usage of illicit drugs, hence raising the risk of reincarceration.

Punishment will also facilitate the decrease of the number of offenders on the streets and thus lower the crime rate and increase the safety of the neighborhoods. Therefore, the effectiveness of punishing drug offenders should have a positive correlation to the decline in the rate of drug usage in the country (Sloas & Atkin-Plunk, 2019). However, this is not the case as the increased incarceration rate of drug offenders increases illicit drug usage. More so, the increased rate of sentencing offenders will result in congestion in the existing prisons, which will cause a strain on the budgetary allocation of correctional facilities. Therefore, it is evident that punishing drug offenders via imprisonment is not an effective mechanism for lowering drug-related crimes, drug usage, or overdose deaths as recidivism is on the rise.

On the other hand, incorporating treatment programs for drug offenders into the criminal justice system will facilitate the reduction of recidivism and overcrowding of correctional facilities. However, effectiveness is attainable if the treatment initiative receives support from the management, there is a qualified and devoted professional, availability of sufficient resources, detailed therapeutic training to help the offenders beyond their drug addiction issue, and a mechanism of assisting those in parole (Desmarais et al., 2016). More so, combining both drug education and treatment is vital in attaining the best outcomes. Comprehension of the fact that drug abuse and addiction is a treatable psychological disorders is paramount. Jail and prison treatment, drug courts, and community re-entry initiatives are some of the criminal justice system's treatment measures. However, there is the challenge of very few inmates having the willingness to participate in these programs. Therefore, the authorities in the system may use supervision, regulation, and infliction of legal penalties to enhance participation.

Emotional and social therapies effectively treat drug abuse conduct as they equip an individual with relevant cognitive capabilities. Behavioral treatment allows the offenders to undergo counseling to strengthen their emotional capacity and enable them to deal with rejection and being termed as ex-convicts. They accept who they are and develop strategies for coping with the alienation. Thus, there are minimal chances of developing stress, which may increase their vulnerability to relapsing to drug usage post-incarceration as they learn decision-making and problem-solving skills (Sloas & Atkin-Plunk, 2019). Counseling aids in equipping them with the relevant tools and techniques of how well they can fit into society and lead a crime-free life. It also enables them to become active social beings, as their self-esteem increases and develops self-identity. Their interpersonal skills improve, and they discern antisocial conduct, which increases their propensity to abuse drugs. Also, the therapy aids in increasing their drive to receive the treatment and avoid drug-related activities.

More so, educating the community on the significance of accepting ex-offenders is vital in boosting their recovery. Community-based treatment is essential in preventing relapse when a person returns to their home (Garrett et al., 2019). Supervision and treatment of those on parole or executing community service is crucial in ensuring that they put into action the drug education obtained while in the prisons and jails. These programs ease their acceptance into society and decrease the challenges to their sobriety and recidivism risk.

The use of medication, such as methadone in treating opioid addiction, is vital. The jails and prisons have also embraced self-help initiatives such as the “alcoholics anonymous” groups through which the offenders receive treatment (Desmarais et al., 2016). Thus, the drug courts should ensure that they employ both drug treatment and judicial monitoring to ensure offenders undertake the programs to completion. The treatment's effectiveness is attainable when the offenders start it while in prison and continue in their homes after release. The Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration (ADAA) funds some of the correctional facilities' treatment programs. A report from the organization indicated that offenders who complete the treatment manifest a substantial decline in criminal behavior and arrests (Desmarais et al., 2016). Recidivism declines, and they become productive members of the community and contribute to its positive development.

The significance of the treatment of drug offenders is that it lowers the risk of spreading infectious illnesses. Drug abuse behavior puts them at risk of contracting infectious diseases such as HIV/ AIDS and Hepatitis C, which may put the entire prison population at risk of contracting the diseases. Screening for such diseases and offering the appropriate treatment is crucial in lowering the overall costs of treating a vast population (Garrett et al., 2019). Besides, treating the individuals boosts their health and their community as they do not spread the ailment after release.


All in all, drug offenders' treatment is a more effective disciplinary mechanism than punishment. Treatment ensures the ex-convicts' transformation where they become productive members of the community and have low chances of recidivism and relapses. The effectiveness of treatment occurs when the offender cooperates with the criminal justice system by manifesting a willingness to receive the treatment. More so, combining medication treatment, counseling, and community-based treatment ensures that the offender gets quality and comprehensive treatment. Thus, post-incarceration treatment is vital in facilitating the re-entry of the offenders into society and lowering recidivism. On the other hand, the punishment increases the number of those imprisoned while overcrowding the correctional facilities requiring additional resources to cater to the inflated population. More so, the recidivism rate post-incarceration is high in those who undergo imprisonment as they face stressful changes such as rejection, stigmatization, and lack of employment. They do not have the relevant skills of coping instilled in those who receive the treatment in prison and during parole.


Desmarais, S. L., Gray, J. S., Rade, C. B., Cohn, A. M., Doherty, S., & Knight, K. (2016). Medication-assisted treatment and violent outcomes in community-based offenders with alcohol and drug use problems. Psychology of Violence, 6(3), 378-389.

Garrett, B. L., Jakubow, A., & Monahan, J. (2019). Judicial reliance on risk assessment in sentencing drug and property offenders: A test of the treatment resource hypothesis. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 46(6), 799-810.

Mitchell, O., Cochran, J. C., Mears, D. P., & Bales, W. D. (2017). Examining prison effects on recidivism: A regression discontinuity approach. Justice Quarterly, 34(4), 571-596.

Sloas, L. B., & Atkin-Plunk, C. A. (2019). Perceptions of balanced justice and rehabilitation for drug offenders. Criminal Justice Policy Review, 30(7), 990-1009.

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