Research results indicate that the reduction of substance abuse is linked to the incidents of criminal behavior. (Ammerman, Ott and Tarter, 202) The incarceration of persons who abuse drugs and alcohol can and has been found to tax the criminal justice system by making demands on the available facilities that is severely limited. The result is, increasing numbers of substance abusers are placed in the prison systems with little supervision, overcrowded systems and general lack of “programs designed to meet the needs of substance-abusing offenders.
” (Ammerman, Ott and Tarter, 202) This only adds to the incidents of recidivism because, the lack of treatment in prison only leads to a relapse upon release and the resumption of habits that gave way to criminal conduct in the first place. (Ammerman, Ott and Tarter, 202) Added to this problem is the fact that many prisoners involved in drug abuse bring drug-induces HIV infections into the prison putting an overcrowded prison population at greater health risks.
(Ammerman, Ott and Tarter, 202) Like prisoners with mental health issues, efforts should be made to ensure that offenders with substance abuse issues be identified early on and subjected to mandatory treatment programs rather than incarceration in instances of minor offences. In all other cases, these prisoners should be provided with substance abuse programs while incarcerated so that they are not vulnerable to a relapse upon release into the general population.
Similarly, prisoners with substance abuse issues who are released on probation should be ordered to continue with a substance abuse program. The idea to ensure that the substance abuse problem that contributed to the criminal conduct is eliminated and the risk of reoffending/recidivism is reduced and ultimately will contribute to reducing prison overcrowding.