We cannot build or spend our way out of the criminal morass that drugs bring

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" once epitomized the American ethic of repairing damage to avoid the cost of replacement. It was a sound approach. Sadly, it is out of fashion. Instead of prevention, we prefer expensive solutions.

Nowadays, we spend more on punishing addicts and criminals than we do on prevention. As a society, we are largely bent upon punishment and retribution rather than rehabilitation, repair or prevention. In that strategy, we act as though money were no object.

Some experts who have watched the vaunted War on Drugs over decades believe that it is a hopeless enterprise. Some of those experts - including libertarians and conservatives - even advocate legalization of certain drugs.

We will not wade into that morass. But we will note the front-page article in Friday's edition about Clatsop County's drug court. Judge Paula Brownhill and Judge Phil Nelson praised the court's success as three people were commended for finishing a year-long program of treatment and supervision.

Instead of jail time, drug offenders agree to weekly meetings with a probation officer, along with drug tests and home visits, plus regular court appearances to review their progress. Clatsop County's program is a replica of drug courts that operate across the state and nation.

We cannot build or spend our way out of the morass of crime and physical decline that drugs generate.

As former Gov. Neil Goldschmidt said in 1998: "We will build more prison cells because they are needed, but if this is all we do, they will always be full."

Judges Brownhill and Nelson and Corrections Director Danny Jordan deserve praise for bringing the drug court concept to Clatsop County.

Judges Brownhill and Nelson and Corrections Director Danny Jordan deserve praise for bringing the drug court concept to Clatsop County

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