Friday, 14. September 2012
It seems that the Obama Administration’s 2012 National Drug Control Strategy has resonated in Minnesota. Last night, officials from various Minnesota state departments convened to discuss the growing need for a new drug control strategy.
The revelation was prompted by an unsettling increase in the purity, availability, and widespread use of heroin and prescription opiates across Minnesota. At a news conference announcing the campaign, Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson echoed the ideas outlined in the NDCS. Jesson announced that the strategy would rely on the continued development and implementation of the state’s existing programs, focusing on prevention and treatment.
The DHS Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division plans to coordinate efforts across the criminal justice system, department of corrections, medical community, and school system. The strategy would include the strengthening of MN drug courts, an alternative to traditional incarceration that focuses on an offender’s recovery while still maintaining accountability within the criminal court system. However, space is limited in drug courts statewide and often, participation is unavailable for many qualified offenders. This is especially true of offenders represented by overloaded public defenders. The chances of inclusion in these programs is far greater with the involvement of an experienced MN criminal defense attorney.
According to MN Corrrections Commissioner Tom Roy, the strategy must also focus on the treatment of prison inmates who are struggling with drug addiction. “We only have 800 treatment beds,” announced Roy, “We are not meeting the needs of our offenders.”
Jesson announced that the next step in developing Minnesota’s strategy would be to examine the programs used in other states.
It is clear that further penalizing the drug user is not stifling the country’s growing demand. To truly impact the widespread and increasing use of dangerous drugs, the government’s focus must be redirected from corrections to prevention and treatment. Minnesota has the programs in place to provide such services. However, resources are severely limited and the majority of Minnesota drug offenders do not receive access to necessary medical intervention, thus perpetuating the cycle of use, abuse, handcuffs, and crowded prisons.