Maryland legislators are trying to decide how to close the billion dollar budget gap. The choices so far are–raise taxes or cut spending.
Enough said about raising taxes.
But a good place to start cutting spending is the $76 million a year Maryland spends imprisoning people convicted of low-level drug offenses. Not only would we save money, but we would save ourselves the heartache of sending more people to Maryland’s already bursting prisons–only to get out and continue the cycle of addiction, crime and violence.
Recent studies found that expanding access to drug treatment could save millions per year and has the potential to reduce both individual suffering and the overall societal burden.
It’s time for our state and local partners to invest more in drug treatment as a part of reforming drug laws and policies in Baltimore and beyond. Doing so would not only reduce this costly burden on our prison system but it is a human response to drug addiction.
People charged with lower level drug offenses need comprehensive treatment in the community, not a prison cell, and we need legislators to enact more effective public safety strategies so we can stop paying the high costs of our failed drug policies.