Baltimore police officers will soon be offering low-level drug offenders the option to seek treatment rather than face jail time.
The Wall Street Journal recently took note of the diversion program, which is part of Baltimore’s redoubled efforts to combat its persistent opioid addiction problem and an acknowledgement that the threat of punishment alone is not an effective means of curbing illegal drug use.
The WSJ interviewed Ganesha Martin, chief of external affairs for Baltimore police, who expressed the frustration some police officers have felt under the old system: “You feel defeated as a police officer that wants to help that person when you keep arresting them.” That cycle of arrests can only continue when, as Martin said, drug addicts “don’t get the services they need when they’re incarcerated.”
Enrollment in a drug treatment program, particularly under threat of arrest, is no guarantee that one will kick a drug habit. But hopefully this diversion program represents a comprehensive shift in the city’s approach to battling drug addiction.
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