Those who have witnessed the criminal justice system and its approach toward drug users often have an issue with the lack of knowledge concerning addiction and mental illness. The state I currently live in has a terrible record when it comes to the decision making whether these individuals need help or need punishment. Luckily, subjects to these abiding crimes have professionals rising up, those who have witnessed these troubles first-hand, to help them break through this growing incarceration and vicious cycle many abusers face. Stephanie King and Cameron Wadsworth are prime examples of professionals rising up to combat the legal view of addicts and bring these inflicted characters to a normal stable life. Their motto is to work with substance abuse and the families affected, while convincing local legislators to develop proper treatment through the legal system. Below is a blog published on January 15, 2017, titled The Disease of Addiction and our Criminal Justice System that was shared between the members of LHL and Stephanie King.
As a young student of law, Stephanie and Cameron’s effort to work with substance abuse and families is exactly what I wanted to see happen within my community; for many of my fellow classmates and former friends are easily susceptible to the growing population of chemical dependency. Too many times have I seen people who are good at heart fail to meet legal standards due to their mental condition, and it worsens once they are thrown in the privatized cage! How does this help? Life after prison isn’t any different, and in many ways more difficult to adapt to after leaving their captivity. These individuals, from my stand point, develop a form of Stockholm syndrome, or worse, believe their life is more simplistic in the guarded perimeter than it is outside world. Logically, it would make sense why a person who depends on a substance would depend on their captor after being thrown into a facility full of people who have done far worse- far-far worse. Stephanie and Cameron’s business, The Shore Treatment and Recovery, has a mission to break this societal problem and give people the freedom they deserve with the help they so need. The legal action they are taking is only scratching the surface of many underlying problems in the legal system, but because of their effort, their stories are spreading like wildfire to inspire more to take action and reach out to those who are facing drug abuse and addiction.
The Disease of Addiction and our Criminal Justice System
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 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 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
As part of her mission to help other people find the freedom she now has, Cameron began working with local legislators to change the way our legal system handles the sentencing of individuals who need proper addiction treatment rather than jail time
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.