One out of 10 Florida inmates is incarcerated for using drugs, and only a small percentage of these prisoners are receiving help for their addiction, advocates for increased treatment told members of the state’s Senate Criminal Justice Committee.
Many prisoners who are not treated commit more crimes when they are released to support their drug habit, and are reincarcerated, the Miami Herald reports. The state’s spending on substance abuse programs has declined, while the growth of “pill mills” selling prescription opioids has exploded, the newspaper notes.
By focusing on this issue, the state’s legislators hope to reduce the percentage of drug offenders who return to prison and reduce the cost of operating prisons.
People who run treatment programs estimate about half of the state’s 100,000 inmates have substance abuse problems related to their imprisonment. In 2010, the state’s prison system provided drug or alcohol abuse treatment to 6,120 inmates.
Next year, that number is expected to rise to 7,324. Advocates for expanded substance abuse programs in prisons say those who receive treatment are much less likely to commit new crimes.
According to the article, Governor Rick Scott has said he is willing to consider expanding treatment programs in prisons.