At the April 30 public hearing for L.D. 967, An Act to Make Scheduled Drugs for Personal Use a Civil Penalty, Attorney General Aaron Frey testified in opposition, saying during his testimony that “there are many paths to getting someone into treatment,” and there is no specific “right path” to getting them there, and sometimes the criminal justice system is that motivator.

I agree with AG Frey that there is no “right path” to get someone into treatment. I don’t agree that the criminal justice system is ever a good motivator for people who have a substance use disorder — or that it should be used as a path at all.

A motivator to treatment shouldn’t cost someone a current or future job. It shouldn’t cost someone housing. It shouldn’t cost someone their kids or their freedom. However, incarceration for drug possession does and has cost people these things time and time again.

The saddest part about using incarceration to treat substance abuse, is that incarceration is more likely to traumatize a person into using drugs than it is to get someone to stop using. Yet prosecutors testified they are willing to ruin people’s lives as a way to try to “get someone into treatment,” not caring about what comes after the treatment.

If we want people in recovery to be successful members of society then we need to treat them with dignity and respect and not take away their chance at recovery before they have even started.

We get people to seek treatment by ending stigma and the narrative that drug users are bad people, and we do that by taking drug users out of our prisons and jails while offering connection to community.

 

Mikki Rice

Freeman Township

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