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DWW25921's avatar

Is rehab cheaper (or more cost effective) than jail?

Asked by DWW25921 (5820 points ) December 8th, 2013

It would appear that our jails are overrun with the mentally ill and drug offenses. Would it not be cost effective to put drug offenders in rehab and leave the jails for those who hurt others? It seems that we are lumping “bad behavior” into the same category. I realize that most of our jails are privatized and that there is a lot of corruption and pressure to fill them up. Well, does that actually work? Would it make more sense to try to solve the problem rather than postpone it until they get out?

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11 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

Rehab is a lot cheaper than jails. The difference though is that the addict/alcoholic needs to have even a little motivation to get cleaned and sober.

So the drug court model does work: provide treatment as an alternative to jail time. To make it work, though, the jail time alternative needs to be a real threat, not a “Lindsay Lohan weekend”. So six months in jail or 90 day rehab. And straight to jail for the balance of six months if you mess up in treatment.

DWW25921's avatar

@zenvelo Seems you’ve put thought into this… Sounds like a great idea!

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Drug offenders (drugs are the offense) don’t belong in traditional jail. I feel like this does not work. Some other type of incarceration tailored to drug addicts may.

Unbroken's avatar

U.S. jails are non effective, as they don’t practice rehabilitation, therefore not cost effective at all.

I don’t know about drug rehab places. But @zenvelo seems to have it figured out.

DWW25921's avatar

@Unbroken It would seem so.

ETpro's avatar

@DWW25921 Great question. I completely agree with @zenvelo, and I further hate that the US incarceration rate is the highest of any nation on Earth. Even repressive regimes like North Korea don’t lock as many people per capita as the US does. That’s shameful, and we need to change it.

DWW25921's avatar

@ETpro I think it’s part of our culture to just pick up and punish instead of helping. After all, it is big business! How do we change that effectively?

ETpro's avatar

@DWW25921 The for profit prison industries has to be one of the most abhorrent concepts of recent times. I’d outlaw that obscene practice first, the spend some time and money teaching taxpayers how much money they are throwing away on this lock-em-all-up insanity.

YARNLADY's avatar

More expensive to start with, but easily more cost effective in the long run.

ragingloli's avatar

The cheapest way would be to abolish the right to appeal and the right to a fair trial, and then to introduce the death penalty for every single crime.
Then just put them against a wall and shoot them with guns, mass execution style, and then confiscate either the criminal’s or his/her relatives’ material and financial assets to pay for all the expenses.

DWW25921's avatar

@ragingloli I think I fear you now… :)

@ETpro Absolutely right!

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