Letter: Alaska needs more treatment options

As reported in the Juneau Empire on June 23, 2015: “Alaska’s prison population grew by 27 percent between 2005 and 2014, the third-fastest rate in the United States. The cost is nearly $62,000 per inmate bed per year.” Alaska needs more treatment options. Prisons are not treatment facilities. A person should not have to go to prison, and get a criminal record that can ruin their entire life, to get treatment for addiction

Juneau crime rates, Juneau death rates and the number of Juneau children in foster or grandparent care have skyrocketed. Hepatitis C in Southeast is up 490 percent.

It is time that we all understand, as City and Borough of Juneau attorney Amy Mead points out, that “the point of SB 91 is to treat the underlying causes of crime rather than just the symptoms”

It is time we all understand that you can punish someone over and over but without help to treat the underlying disease of addiction, we are wasting resources — and Juneau and the State of Alaska cannot afford to continue to do that.

We need treatment options to save money, to save lives, to save our families. As the families whose children died in prison while detoxing from opiates can tell you, prisons are not treatment centers. We need treatment for this disease, not punishment.

Michele Morgan,

Juneau Stop Heroin-Start Talking