Since the late 1960s, the U.S. government has aggressively attempted to curtail the manufacture, sale and use of illicit narcotics in what has become commonly known as the War on Drugs. The effects of this so-called war are pervasive, from news of high-profile narcotic seizures by law enforcement, to the extra red tape required to purchase certain over-the-counter medications. And increasingly, another effect is rippling on the surface: more and more women are winding up in prison with lengthy jail sentences.
According to a 2009 study conducted by the Women’s Prison Association, the number of women in prison has grown more than 800 percent in the past three decades, with two-thirds of that population in prison for non-violent crimes. Many of those non-violent crimes are related to drug offenses; the same study showed a 19 percent increase in women being arrested for drug violations between 1999 and 2008.
Often, women caught up in drug cases are reluctant to testify about the drug-related activities of men – relatives, spouses, sons and others. Seattle writer Silja J.A. Talvi, author of “Women Behind Bars: The Crisis of Women in the U.S. Prison System,” told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in a 2007 interview that, “…women are less likely than men to snitch on loved ones. Prosecutors will come to them and say they will go to prison unless they give up the names of three higher-ups, but women usually either say they don’t know those people or will simply decline. Men will snitch and, unfortunately, they often get less time in prison than women who don’t.”
Prison isn’t a comfortable place for anyone, but it’s particularly hard on women with drug or alcohol addictions. The Institute for Research, Education & Training in Addictions claims women are more likely than men to have a substance abuse disorder. According to the Sentencing Project, 60 percent of incarcerated women have a history of substance abuse. A 2007 study by the Sentencing Project claimed only one in five women in state prisons and one in eight women in federal prisons received treatment for substance abuse.
Programs like the Bureau of Prisons’ 500-Hour Residential Drug Abuse Program, RDAP, are often successful. A study conducted by the Bureau of Prisons and the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that the Residential Drug Abuse Program showed both male and female inmates who participated in the program were less likely to re-enter prison and relapse. But these programs aren’t often available. According to the Bureau of Prisons the RDAP program is only available at 11 out of the 28 federal women’s prisons.
The first step to avoiding the trap of prison is proper mental health treatment; and treatment begins with detox. Don’t hesitate, call your local detox center today.