Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

October 26, 2003

Don't close programs that treat addiction

As a Probation Agent in Anne Arundel County, I would like to address the possible closing of facilities at the Crownsville Hospital Complex. In recent months, I have seen an increase in the amount of Anne Arundel County probationers who are addicted to heroin and cocaine. Although most county residents are unaware, the numbers are staggering.

During the past summer, we have seen the loss of the STAR Program at our local Detention Center. The STAR Program was an Alcohol and Drug Program located in the center. The loss was felt throughout the criminal justice system. Not only was it a significant loss for Parole and Probation, but it was also felt throughout the court system, as judges were left without options on how to treat addicted offenders.

At this time, we struggle trying to find appropriate treatment programs. The resources are just not there. The thought of losing the Hope House, Chrysalis House and Second Gensis is disheartening. These facilities already have tremendous waiting lists. As agents, we receive more and more addicts with court orders requiring they "Totally abstain from alcohol and drugs," yet we have nowhere to refer them for treatment. Outpatient facilities are in abundance, but heroin addicts and many cocaine addicts will not benefit from outpatient treatment.

I only ask that all of this be taken into consideration before decisions are made that will affect everyone in this county, from the addicts themselves (who could be your neighbor, friend or relative) to the victims of the crimes they commit. When considering the amount of money that will be saved in closing these facilities, please consider the amount of money that will be lost by each individual who will not have the benefit of treatment.

For each person not given the benefit of treatment, there is one more person who will likely enter or remain in the criminal justice system.

Debbie Gonzalez

Pasadena

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