Massachusetts police offer new rehab program for addicts

Drug addiction is commonly viewed as a crime and not a disease by the police. That may be changing. Leonard Campanello, the police chief in Gloucester, Massachessetts, vowed to not charge any drug addict who asks for help and will instead send them to a rehabilitation center. Thanks to Campaello, drug addicts are finally getting the help they need.
“Any addict who walks into the police station with the remainder of their drug equipment (needles, etc.) or drugs and asks for help will NOT be charged,” Campello wrote on his Facebook page. “Instead we will walk them through the system toward detox and recovery.”
Federal Bureau of Prisons statistics show that 46.5 percent of inmates in the U.S. have been charged with a drug offense. That is a total of 86,080 people. Prisons are being overcrowded because addicts are being sent to jail. Putting them in jail will not help them recover from their disease. Once they are released from prison, they will simply continue living their unhealthy lifestyle and will probably end up back in prison.
According to the Boston Globe, Campaello started the Gloucester Angel program which aims to offer moral support to drug addicts and send them to treatment centers.
Through the program, any drug addict who walks into the police station asking for help will be directed to an “angel,” or volunteer, who will offer moral support. An officer will then get in contact with a treatment center, which will then determine what form of treatment the patient needs and the duration of time the patient will have to spend at the rehab facility.
While the idea has merit, some people don’t think it’s practical.
“What if the treatment doesn’t work and the person just ends up relapsing?” said Melanie De Los Santos, an applied psychology major at Morrisville State College. “That would be a waste of money and we definitely need all the money we can get when it comes to healthcare.”
There are many critics who believe that the Gloucester Angel program gives addicts an excuse to continue using because they believe that they will not be arrested. Other critics say Campanello has no right to decide to not arrest people who may have potentially committed a crime.
“Promising amnesty not only takes away an incentive to complete a treatment program, it could also complicate an investigation involving an addict who might have been involved in a serious crime before surrendering to the police,” the New York Times cited Elizabeth D. Scheibel, a former district attorney for the Northwestern District of Massachussetts, as saying.
Evidence shows that Campanello’s program has helped large numbers of people and not only those who are living in Massachusetts.
Hundreds of addicts have entered into treatments facilities and this program has already expanded to towns within 17 different states, CNN reported. Offering help to those people will help prevent any future crime.
“Drug addiction is a disease, not a crime, so we should be offering people help and not a jail sentence,” said Andrea Haley, a criminal justice major at MSC, in an interview.
Thousands of people are either dying from drug overdoses or are being sent to prison. If simply sending drug addicts to prison has not helped these statistics then it is about time to find another solution.

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