Delinquent or Dependent

De-institutionalization was to be a huge step towards dealing in a progressive and humane fashion towards the mentally ill. The plan wasn’t as successful as hoped because the community services meant to replace institutions never came to pass. I would argue that we have essentially re-institutionalized the mentally ill. Hospitals and asylums have closed or been downsized while jails and prisons are expanding, if not in size and number at least in population. People caught up in addiction who could be treated are instead punished and incarcerated. I don’t have an issue with punishing those who choose to break the law but is addiction a choice? Who chooses to be consumed by addiction? If I steal to feed my addiction am I delinquent or dependent? What do we achieve as a society by punishing someone whose life is in chaos because of mental illness or addiction?

I remember the first spanking I received as a child. I was in my room waiting for my father to return home to administer my punishment. I was worried with fear. After I received my spanking I lost much of that fear. Incarceration is the same. The fear of punishment is lessened when one knows and has experienced the punishment.

It is probably more sensible economically to incarcerate individuals than to treat them but do we become morally bankrupt in the process?

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