Please go to the Root and check out my article on how Rodney King’s story was not just about police brutality, but about what happens when vulnerable people (addicts, alcoholics, and people with mental health problems among others) are serially incarcerated rather than treated.
King was beaten after a high-speed chase from police. He had an alcohol addiction problem that seemed to contribute to early arrests. And as he said later, about why he had fled police, “I was scared of going back to prison and I just kind of thought the problem would just go away.” What if King had, instead, gotten early alcohol treatment? And what if that treatment had been paid for by money saved by stopping the trend of over-incarceration. As I write:
In a nation where we constantly cry that government is fiscally overextended, a 2010 study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (pdf) illustrates how much overincarceration is literally costing it. As the authors put it: “A reduction rate by one-half in the incarceration rate of non-violent offenders would lower correctional expenditures by $16.9 billion per year and return the U.S. to about the same incarceration rate as we had in 1993 (which was already high by historical standards).” That money could be put into drug treatment, job creation and education.
Food for thought… and action.