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Alternative Options to Jail Sentencing

Crime, both on the large and small scale, is heavily associated with drug use and addiction. Many times, drug use and addiction as an adolescent paves the way to an increased rate of criminal activity and drug use as an adult. In the past, drug addicts, or those involved with crimes related to drugs, were sentenced in the same way as those who were involved in crimes not related to drug use. Generally, this would include probation or mandatory jail sentencing, followed by an extended probation period. This is usually the case for large cities in Oklahoma, including Oklahoma City, where conservative lawmakers would choose strict punishments for even first-time offenders. In more recent years, district attorneys have become more aware of different types of creative sentencing, thinking about the larger picture as opposed to just punishing the current crime. Things like addiction counseling, mandatory drug rehabilitation, and other types of drug intervention are being favored as a way to solve the larger problem of drug addiction, often associated or believed to be the cause of some crimes.

The advantages of newer technologies have been of great assistance as a form of drug intervention in Oklahoma. One such example has been the introduction of alcohol monitoring devices and drug patches. These devices, coupled with addiction counseling, offer an alternative way to keep drug and alcohol abuse regulated, while also assisting with the prison overcrowding and budget cut problems that the larger cities, such as Norman, Oklahoma, are facing.

Another alternative to immediate jail sentencing for drug addicts is mandatory placement in an inpatient rehab facility for addiction counseling and drug intervention. While some more conservative thinkers may believe that placing a convict in one of these facilities as opposed to sending them to jail is giving the criminal an easy out, they fail to see the positive effects in the larger scheme of things. Clearly, if an addict were to be sentenced to prison, they would go through the detox phase of rehabilitation while also adjusting to life in prison. While detox in any location will be difficult, putting a person with a severe substance addiction into an environment such as prison, without the proper assistance for detox, is likely to create an even more challenging time for the addict.

Placing an addict into a rehab facility instead of prison offers the person a chance to receive adequate assistance for an effective detox phase, as well as a more successful total recovery. The patient will have access to staff trained to assist them in such a difficult transition from normal life to that of battling their addiction. Drug intervention can be a difficult time, both physically and emotionally, and being placed in an environment specifically suited to deal with these struggles can be an added support to the patient. They will be able to receive adequate addiction counseling, meant to help them understand their addiction and it’s causes, as well as to help them transition to life after drug rehabilitation, increasing the likelihood that the patient will not relapse or continue their self-damaging behavior and criminal activity.

While an addict sentenced to prison may eventually become more accustomed to life without a substance addiction, they will not receive the tools and education that will enable them to continue their positive behavior after leaving the confines of jail. Although the transition from outside life into prison can be difficult, oftentimes, those with extended stays find it incredibly difficult to transition to the outside world after their sentencing. Without the proper addiction counseling and drug intervention support, these people may immediately revert back to their old habits, both concerning substance abuse and criminal activity.

Oklahoma resident John Wampler, District Attorney of Jackson County, laments on the success of rehabilitation programs as opposed to immediate jail sentencing.

“I’m a huge supporter of drug court. I’ve seen a lot of success stories come out of it. The problem…is a lot of legislators want to see immediate results, and so there is a reluctance to put money into certain programs. They’re not looking at the long-range dividends.
For instance, we always release someone from prison and watch them struggle to get back on their feet. We need to give them the tools so when they do get out, they have the skills to find a job and lead productive lives. That’s how you make a real change.”

Vista Taos Addiction Center, located in Taos, New Mexico, specializes in providing complete care in the way of addiction counseling and drug intervention. Focusing on treating the body, mind and spirit, Vista Taos provides a multitude of holistic therapies designed to help patients take a positive step towards substance abuse recovery. Contact a counselor at Vista Taos Renewal Center today to discover the various therapies that could assist you or your loved one in making a successful recovery.

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COVID-19 update: The health and safety of our clients at Vista Taos Renewal Center continues to be our highest priority. Due to the national rise in cases of COVID-19, all potential clients entering the Vista Taos program shall be tested for the virus and must receive their results prior to admission. Vista Taos continues to work closely with the New Mexico Department of Health, adhering to the highest standards of care for our clients, and will provide subsequent testing after admission as needed. For assistance in finding the most efficient testing sites, please contact our Director of Community Relations, Jeremy Lihte, at (575) 425-1913
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