The Disease of Addiction and our Criminal Justice System

The Disease of Addiction and our Criminal Justice System

By In Addiction Recovery, Social Issues
Posted January 7, 2017

On January 3, 2017 Stephanie King and Cameron Wadsworth of The Shores Treatment and Recovery sat down with the host of A Just Cause Radio, Lamont Banks, to discuss our criminal justice system’s approach to addiction. Both Stephanie and Cameron have seen first-hand what results from a lack of addiction and mental illness education among our judicial and law enforcement professionals.

Stephanie King

Stephanie King is a Certified Drug and Alcohol Interventionist who has been involved with addiction recovery for over 10 years. She began researching the disease of addiction after her ex-husband, Tim, became an alcoholic and started experiencing liver failure and showing signs of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. Tim, now terminally ill as a result of alcohol addiction, has been sentenced to serve 10 years in prison, even though his life expectancy is approximately one year. Part of Stephanie’s mission to raise awareness about alcoholism and drug addiction now includes seeking change in the way our criminal justice system addresses offenders who suffer from addiction.

Cameron Wadsworth

Cameron Wadsworth is the national judicial liaison for The Shores Treatment and Recovery. As she describes it, in 2004 Cameron was “that girl sitting in jail whom no one understood.” While in prison, she was fortunate enough to be interviewed by a representative of the court who wanted to determine if she was a good candidate for Florida’s diversion program, which allows incarcerated addicts to receive addiction treatment rather than jail time.

Cameron entered treatment for a year instead of staying behind bars, and her charges were eventually dropped after she successfully completed the rehab program. Cameron now works in the court system, fighting for men and women who have found themselves in the same situation she had been in 12 years ago.

Changing the Way Our Legal System Sentences Addicts

Cameron and Stephanie plan to begin working with local legislators to help change the way our legal system handles the sentencing of those in need of proper addiction treatment rather than jail time. For Cameron, this next step in raising awareness about our nation’s addiction epidemic is part of her mission to help other people find the freedom she now has. And for Stephanie, working with local communities and legislators is another way she seeks to prevent the families of addicts from having to go through what she and her children have faced.

Florida is one of a handful of states leading the charge to incorporate diversion programs into the criminal justice system. But as Cameron and Stephanie explain, there is more training and education that needs to take place to improve the function of these diversion programs and encourage the growth of such programs in other states.

To hear the full interview with Stephanie King and Cameron Wadsworth, listen to the January 3rd edition of A Just Cause Radio on Blog Talk Radio.

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