Troops not Treatment for Chicago… Again (Updated)

by The Discovering Alcoholic on July 30, 2008

The National Guard was called in to quell an uprising of racial violence in 1919 Chicago after four days of bitter fighting between whites and blacks showed no sign of abating. Sparked by the wrongful death of a black child, many factors were blamed for the event including a tight job market made worse by returning doughboys (black and white) and increased segregation in the city. The troops put a halt to the violence, but no solution or progress was made in the city’s race relations which continued to worsen for the next fifty years.

The current Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has decided to cut $55 million from the budget earmarked to combat drug and alcohol addiction. Bearing witness to the adage that history repeats itself, he has also threatened to bring back in the troops to Chicago to stem a rising tide of criminal violence. Considering the fact that over 2/3 of the prison population in Illinois is there for drug and alcohol related crimes, Blagojevich seems intent to repeat the “troops not treatment” mistake.

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I have no problem in forcing calm upon sections of a city plagued by violence, but soldiers are just a temporary fix and will only worsen the problem if steps aren’t taken by the community to solve deeper issues. Surely drugs and alcohol are not the only problem, but I know from personal experience how substance abuse and addiction can serve as catalysts to make a bad situation worse. Tomorrow is the last day the state senate can override the budget cut, if Senate President Emil Jones does not reconvene and overturn this act over 40,000 people in the state will lose access to treatment.

He was once a champion of recovery and worthy of a TDA salute:

The Sheridan program, a project of Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich, who campaigned in 2002 on a promise to reduce recidivism, costs about $35 million a year to run. With new construction, it is expected to grow to 1,300 beds, serving about 1,700 prisoners each year. ~ NYTimes

But now according to Wiki, “Polling completed in July 2008 put Blagojevich’s approval rating among Illinois voters at 13.%. Blagojevich ranks as “Least Popular Governor” according to Rasmussen Reports By the Numbers.” I don’t know what happened to him but these days, Governor Blagojevich is certainly no friend of recovery.

Update:

11:59 AM CDT, August 1, 2008
Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s recent veto of $55 million in funding for substance abuse treatment in Illinois — which the state to lose an additional $55 million in federal matching funds — will be devastating on addiction treatment services. The $110 million eliminated from Illinois’ $252 million substance abuse prevention and treatment budget means that funding levels for these services are 43% lower than last year. The Illinois House responded to the Governor’s vetoes by overriding $43 million of the cuts, but the Illinois Senate has yet to follow suit. ~ Chicago Tribune

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