Opinion: Can you punish people out of addiction?

People are understandably sick and tired of being victimized by addicts who stop at nothing for their next high. Drug addiction and rampant crime are destroying our communities. The question, in the midst of this meth and opioid epidemic, is does imprisonment help addicts?

By building more prisons and meting out harsher punishments, I fear all we are doing is building bigger, tougher and angrier drug addicts. But without treatment, drug addicts will choose to get high every time.

We need to find a middle ground, and more importantly, a solution. We as a community can only win by investing in treatment centers to treat this disease. I myself am a recovering addict. Having fought addiction for the better part of 30 years, I did not know I was an addict for almost 25 of that.

It is said, “You can get high, or you can get everything else.” I now choose everything else. I still struggle today but live in recovery.

I think we should work together to give everyone the choice of life free from drugs and incarceration. The worst drug addicts, with proper treatment, could easily become productive members of society. By investing in treatment, we are investing in our communities, and in turn investing in our future.

And so I say no, you cannot punish drug addiction out of people. Senate Bill 29 is predominantly geared to warehouse and punish. I believe that unless we treat this problem, we are only prolonging the inevitable, not reducing recidivism.

Jesse S. Wilson,

Lemon Creek Correctional Center inmate


• My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.