Dirty Urines Should Not Lead to Jail, Say Leading Drug Policy Experts <br> Jail Costs Taxpayers Millions, and Does Not Break the Cycle of Addiction
Former American League MVP Jose Canseco was ordered to jail Monday to await a hearing on whether he violated probation by testing positive for steroids on Friday, according to the Associated Press. He was under house arrest for earlier violating his probation stemming from a nightclub brawl, and was warned that further violations could result in a 15-year prison sentence.
"If Jose Canseco has a drug problem, he needs help, not jail," said Whitney Taylor, an expert from the Drug Policy Alliance. "Revoking probation or parole and being sent back to prison because of a positive drug test doesn't help anyone."
Canseco is one of thousands of Americans sent back to jail for a positive drug test. The revolving door of probation and incarceration for people suffering from drug addiction costs society millions of dollars each year and thousands of citizens their freedom. The average cost of treating an individual for substance abuse problems is approximately $4,500 per episode, versus $29,000 for a year of incarceration.
Canseco was in the headlines last year when, after his retirement, he admitted to using steroids, and estimated that a majority of major leaguers did.
"Dealing with addiction is an ongoing struggle, whether it's gambling, eating or drugs," said Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "If you commit a violent act you should pay the price. If you have a dirty urine, and no one has been harmed, prison is never the answer."