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Watch as we punish the vulnerable some more. - Tactical Ninja

Nov. 2nd, 2012

10:21 am - Watch as we punish the vulnerable some more.

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You know, I'm not sure how a program based on abstinence that uses testing to identify its failures and apply punitive measures to those who stumble is going to save any lives.

Drug courts in the US have resulted in a net-widening effect, where people who would otherwise be cautioned are now being put through the official criminal justice system. Drug testing has been shown to be no more effective at helping reduce harms or recidivism among those with problems than non-testing based programs (and in many cases it's less effective) because it does nothing except highlight backsliding for punishment. Threat of punishment has been shown to be ineffective as a deterrent for drug use. Abstinence-only programs have been shown to be less effective than those which allow for the reality that overcoming addiction is not a linear process.

I would normally provide sources for the statements made above but since I'm in Melbourne on my netbook they aren't at my fingertips. You could look them up yourselves if you're keen - or you could trust that I know my shit on this one.

I think that drug courts could be helpful, but not if they are purely based on the abstinence/punishment model. What will actually happen IMO is that we will end up with more people incarcerated as they are used as a funnel for more and more drug-related crimes, and as people inevitably backslide, are tested and receive sentences. I fail to see how this will save lives. Just saying.

Comments:

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From:helianthas
Date:November 1st, 2012 11:34 pm (UTC)
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"harm reduction" is the buzzword in the social work world...
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From:helianthas
Date:November 1st, 2012 11:34 pm (UTC)
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(Meaning vs abstinence-only)
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From:tatjna
Date:November 2nd, 2012 05:19 am (UTC)
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Yeah. Shame those making the laws and policy don't understand what harm reduction actually means (you know, vs "common sense" knee-jerk reactions).
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From:tcpip
Date:November 2nd, 2012 12:41 am (UTC)
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Compares very poorly with the Portuguese experience, doesn't it?
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From:tatjna
Date:November 2nd, 2012 05:21 am (UTC)
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Yeah. Decriminalisation hasn't been a panacea for all drug related problems in Portugal by any means, but everything I've read about it suggests that it's making large steps in the right direction in terms of actually reducing harm. And by comparison, this seems positively barbaric. Go NZ?
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From:grist
Date:November 2nd, 2012 10:59 am (UTC)
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That's ok. All we have to do is privtise prisons and then we can monetise the degenerates.
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From:medleymisty
Date:November 2nd, 2012 11:31 pm (UTC)
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I can't remember the exact words or who said it, but I remember seeing a quote about how you should be wary of people who like to punish.

Here in the US, the point would be to put more people in prison. Because a lot of our prisons are run by private corporations, and the more people in them, the more profit the corporations make. Thus our war on drugs and why we have the highest incarceration rate in the world. But oh no, you can't say that we have for-profit gulags here! This is the land of Freedom!

And of course people who aren't getting a cut of the profits still approve of the whole thing because yee-haw, we get to be sadistic and to punish people, and to boot the majority of those people have dark skin! It's like the good old days of slavery come back again! (That was sarcasm, if you couldn't tell.)

So yeah, I agree with the tag. Don't copy us. Sadly, it seems that most of the first world countries are trying to, which makes me really really really...something. Something bad.
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