To be honest, I don\’t know whether this is a good idea or not.

Thousands of problem drug users will face losing welfare benefit payments for up to six months if they repeatedly fail to participate in drug treatment programmes under "three strikes and you\’re out" proposals to be announced today.

The move to use the benefits system to encourage drug users to stay in treatment is likely to prove controversial, with some critics warning that cutting benefits could actually fuel crime as those affected steal more to fund their habit.

There will be (as so often when looking at economic incentives) two effects. One is that the threat of losing benefits will increase th number who do stay wih treatment (and hopefully profit from such). There will also be those denied benefits who then steal to fund both their habits and life itself.

The important question, again as so often with matters concering economic incentives, is which effect will prevail: which effect will be stronger on more people? The answer is that we don\’t know, inded, we cannot know until we conduct an experiment. Which we should do, before making these rule changes for everyone.

It might or might not be a good idea: so let\’s find out first shall we?

5 thoughts on “Typical”

  1. john b, why would providing drug treatment in prisons cause riots? There may be some prisoners wanting to escape drug addiction…and prison.

  2. Sorry, slightly harsh comment from me there – I read yours more as a “force all inmates to go cold turkey”, rather than “provide better treatment programmes for those who want it, perhaps tied in with early release schemes”. Agreed that the latter is a good idea.

  3. Of course it won’t work. Addiction isn’t just a matter of will power, and people who are responsive to economic sanctions wouldn’t be spending small fortunes on drugs in the first place. How about just giving addicts as much of their poison of choice as they want, legally and for a reasonable price, and letting them get on with killing themselves? After all, there aren’t too many drinkers and smokers in prison for mugging old ladies to get their next fix.

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