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Alcohol treatment > prison education

Let's face it: prison presents educational opportunities to learn new skills. A person in a Colorado state prison can learn how to burglarize homes and businesses, what to say to victims during an armed robbery and the proper way to cook meth, among other things. Prison puts together a large group of people with skills and knowledge about how to break the law.

So why are we going to start putting people with multiple DUIs into that general prison population? A Colorado criminal justice and rehabilitation systems psychotherapist wonders if our new felony DUI law, which goes into effect tomorrow, is going to hurt us in the long run, even as it appears to help us in the short run.

Psychotherapist Tom Parsons writes in Boulder's Daily Camera that he was dismayed to learn that our new felony DUI law doesn't provide for treatment and incarceration facilities for DUI offenders separate from the general prison population.

Instead, those convicted of felony drunken driving will be housed with people convicted of armed robbery, rape, murder and other crimes. The convicted drunken drivers won't get dedicated, intensive treatment for their chronic alcohol problems and they won't be isolated from those often referred to as career criminals.

It's not unthinkable that a person could enter a state prison convicted of repeated drunk driving offenses and come out with a head full of knowledge about how to successfully commit robbery and more.

Parsons writes that this unintended consequence is what we might reap long-term for our failure to think seriously about how to treat a "serious societal problem" effectively rather than by tossing people into the chaos of prison for up to six years.

The possibility of prison can shake a person to their core. If you face that possibility, an experienced Denver DUI attorney can help you pursue alternative sentencing in negotiations with prosecutors and, if needed, at trial.

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