And by costs here I mean both the human suffering involved for the individual, as well as for immediate family, and the community as a whole, but also for the institutional burdens placed on service systems not designed to handle this sort of thing in the first place.
What we have here, for police, courts and prisons, is responsibility creep for institutions that are not only already overburdened, and have to struggle to respond at all, but end up doing so poorly for the further reason that they were never intended to to do this sort of thing in the first place. And make no mistake here, this also involves, to a large degree, our stance on making drug addiction a criminal matter.
And what is the result of this abysmally short sighted allocation of social resources? The further straining of tensions across several demographic categories; strains that inevitably lead to even more burdens being placed on all of our institutions of social cohesion, and thus more expenditure of effort.
The question then becomes this: Is this simply a case of our political establishment being penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to paying for the ounce of preventive treatment (as opposed to the pounding cure we get now), or are there other players in the game who see proper actions here as merely threats to several lucrative markets; as in not only the privatization of prisons, but the militarization of policing in general? Or perhaps it is some combination of both.
In either case it is still an indictment of a cost/profit form of social organization. How could it be otherwise when the suffering itself , in its human component, doesn't seem to count for much in getting our priorities in order.