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Baker Institute Viewpoints series explores current emphasis on treatment in drug policy

Baker Institute Viewpoints series explores current emphasis on treatment in drug policy

first_imgAddThis ShareMEDIA ADVISORYJeff [email protected]Baker Institute ‘Viewpoints’ series explores current emphasis on treatment in drug policyHOUSTON – (Dec. 16, 2014) – Five leading experts on drug policy reform are sharing their perspectives on whether the current emphasis on treatment in drug policy is a short-term trend or is here to stay in a new “Viewpoints” blog series this week from Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. This topic has important policy implications for incarceration rates and costs, according to Katharine Neill, the Alfred C. Glassell III Postdoctoral Fellow in Drug Policy at the Baker Institute, who coordinated the series.“While it may seem as if we are undergoing a profound shift in approaches to drug use, this is not necessarily the case,” Neill wrote in a post today. “Treatment has always been a part of drug policy, with periodic shifts in emphasis between law enforcement and rehabilitation. That a primary driving force behind drug policy reform is fiscal may result in a ‘leaner and meaner’ criminal justice system, one that reduces jail sentences for drug law violations, but spends too little on treatment and relies too much on fines to punish drug users suffering from addiction — a punishment that will invariably fall harder on poor and minority populations.”Neill said she does not mean to sound overly pessimistic. “Some recent developments do suggest that this time is different, especially with respect to marijuana,” she wrote. “But to the extent that drug addiction remains stigmatized, the possibility of a shift back toward greater punishment exists. It is therefore critical to have an honest discussion about drug addiction that frames it as a disease requiring treatment rather than a crime requiring punishment. If the conversation changes, there is hope that a movement toward more sensible drug policy will continue.”The series kicked off yesterday with a post by Claire Clark, a postdoctoral fellow at the John P. McGovern Center for Humanities and Ethics at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, on “The Future of Treatment in Drug Policy: Stigma Remains a Serious Problem.” The series will run through Friday and can be followed at http://blog.chron.com/bakerblog.For more information or to arrange an interview with one of the experts, contact Jeff Falk, associate director of national media relations at Rice, at [email protected] or 713-348-6775.-30-Follow the Baker Institute Drug Policy Program via Twitter @BakerDrugPolicy.Follow Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews.Related materials:Neill biography: http://bakerinstitute.org/experts/katharine-neill.Baker Institute Drug Policy Program: http://bakerinstitute.org/drug-policy-program.Founded in 1993, Rice University’s Baker Institute ranks among the top 15 university-affiliated think tanks in the world. As a premier nonpartisan think tank, the institute conducts research on domestic and foreign policy issues with the goal of bridging the gap between the theory and practice of public policy. The institute’s strong track record of achievement reflects the work of its endowed fellows, Rice University faculty scholars and staff, coupled with its outreach to the Rice student body through fellow-taught classes — including a public policy course — and student leadership and internship programs. Learn more about the institute at www.bakerinstitute.org or on the institute’s blog, http://blogs.chron.com/bakerblog.last_img read more