HomeNewsBriefArgentina Considering Drug Treatment as Alternative to Incarceration
BRIEF

Argentina Considering Drug Treatment as Alternative to Incarceration

ARGENTINA / 21 DEC 2016 BY MIKE LASUSA EN

Authorities in Argentina are considering a proposal to establish treatment for drug addiction as an alternative to incarceration for people accused of minor crimes, a model that has shown promise in other jurisdictions where it has been applied.

Officials from the justice and security ministries are working with Argentina's anti-drug agency, known by the Spanish acronym SEDRONAR, to draft a proposal for implementing special courts to handle criminal cases involving drug addicts, La Nación reported

The nationwide proposal is based on a pilot program that was established in 2014 in the northwestern province of Salta. The theory is that the special courts help reduce recidivism by addicts who commit crimes to sustain their addiction.

Addicts accused of minor crimes can request admission to drug treatment programs instead of incarceration. Defendants must meet certain requirements set by the judge in their case. If they fail to meet those requirements, their case may be returned to the normal justice system, and they could face jail time.

The program was developed as a response to the high rates of drug addiction among criminal defendants. A 2012 study found that 69.5 percent of the prison population had consumed illegal drugs, compared to about 10 percent of the general population, according to La Nación.

InSight Crime Analysis

Officials in Salta have claimed that the pilot program has shown success in reducing recidivism and addiction, but a systematic analysis of the program's efficacy was only begun in October of this year. Nevertheless, there are examples of similar programs in the United States that may shed light on some of the pros and cons of addiction treatment as an alternative to incarceration.

Proponents of so-called "drug courts" in the United States argue that these programs save money by diverting defendants into drug treatment and keeping them out of prison. They also argue that drug courts reduce recidivism and addiction by mandating treatment and incentivizing compliance with the threat of jail time if requirements are not met.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Drug Policy

Critics, on the other hand, argue that drug courts have been at best minimally effective at reducing recidivism and addiction, and that in many cases they do not save money. They point out that many defendants with serious addiction problems fail to meet the programs' requirements and end up incarcerated rather than continuing to receive necessary treatment.

Both arguments have their merits, but a long-term, government-sponsored study found that US drug courts do indeed save money and reduce recidivism rates. If Argentina moves ahead with this proposal, it will be important for authorities to carry out similar studies and refine the programs based on the results of those analyses.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

ARGENTINA / 18 MAR 2021

Argentina's criminal clans are growing stronger as domestic drug consumption rises, while trafficking networks now thrive in its border regions.

DRUG POLICY / 20 MAY 2022

A spate of gang-related killings has caused panic in a marginalized area of Uruguay’s capital of Montevideo, raising debate about…

DRUG POLICY / 2 NOV 2020

Facing increased economic hardship, poppy-growing communities in southwest Mexico want to join a state program offering alternative projects, but this…

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…