Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Continued Criminalization Of Drug Addiction

I see Redmond O'Neal is back in jail - having failed to stay clean during a 24 hour holiday pass from his residential drug treatment program.

Redmond is of course the son of actor Ryan O'Neal and Farrah Fawcett. Those that watched the documentary on Fawcett's battle with cancer saw Redmond say goodbye to her in chains and a jail jumpsuit during a furlough.

Redmond apparently can't stay clean, and now he may go to prison for 6 years.

He's not a drug dealer, he's just addicted. He belongs in treatment - treatment his family can well afford. Instead, he'll be sentenced to prison, get little help, and on the taxpayer's dime. I know the critics will say "well what about someone who can't afford treatment, should they go to jail for addiction?" No. If only a real study on the cost and benefits of treatment as opposed to jail would cause our "leaders" to think differently about where to put addicts, as opposed to dealers.

And I understand, he was on probation. There has to be consequences to violating probation. Testing positive for drugs is and should be an instant violation.

But what's the solution?

We live in an age where jail is the solution to everything, even for a guy like Redmond O'Neal who is only hurting himself. (Yes, I know he "broke the law").

California is broke, yet a drug addict is possibly on his way to prison for years - for addiction.

The judge made an interesting comment to Redmond in court. He said "It actually strikes me that you haven't got a clue as to what recovery means. It is a lifelong commitment and it's grinding, hard, painful work."

I don't think the problem is that Redmond doesn't have a clue. I just don't think anyone in the system has a clue.

Brian Tannebaum is a criminal defense lawyer in Miami, Florida practicing in state and federal court. Read his free ebook The Truth About Hiring A Criminal Defense Lawyer. To learn more about Brian and his firm, Tannebaum Weiss, please visit

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