What prisons, sugar and health care costs have in common (besides some cool infographics)

We know that people use many different substances and activities to cope with the toxic stress produced by suffering adverse childhood experiences. Those substances and activities include, but are not limited to, methamphetamine (which was once prescribed as a legal antidepressant in the U.S.), alcohol, tobacco, food (especially fats and sugars), sex, thrill sports, exercise and even working too much.

By preventing childhood trauma and by changing our systems — such as education and health — to avoid traumatizing already traumatized people, we’d save billions of dollars. Billions. Never mind the increase in the number of healthier, happier people in the world.

Take prisons. Face the Facts USA, a nonpartisan information resource from the Center for Innovation at The George Washington University, a did a slide show called “U.S. is the World’s Imprisonment Capital“. Some pertinent facts:

It costs about $60 billion a year to keep state and federal prisoners behind bars. States shoulder the biggest share, 85 percent or $51 billion. Federal prison costs are 15 percent or close to $9 billion.

Among federal inmates in 2010: about half (51 percent) were serving time for drug offenses, 35 percent for violations of “public order” offenses like weapons charges or immigration law violations, and less than 10 percent each for violent and property offenses.

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