What do Drug Courts Do?
They provide an alternative to incarceration facilities for non-violent, drug involved offenders. Drug courts differ from regular courts in the fact that they allow for collaboration among judiciary, correction agencies, drug treatment providers, and other community groups which allows the individual to receive the appropriate level of punishment while simultaneously receiving treatment to solve their substance abuse problem (which is likely to have caused the problem in the first place). If these individuals were to be incarcerated they likely would not receive the necessary level of treatment to solve their addiction, and upon release, they are more likely to become repeat offenders, thus costing the American tax payers more money. Drug courts allow for the proper balance between the need for treatment and the need for accountability (supervision, probation, monthly court appearances). The balance presented by these two elements, which is not found in traditional court settings in relation to other illegal behaviors, has proven to successfully prevent future criminal activity, reduce financial burden of repeatedly processing non-violent offenders through the national court/jail system, and increase treatment and recovery of substance abusers.
Some Facts & How They Show the Benefits of Drug Courts:
- 80% of prison inmates abuse drugs and alcohol and nearly 50% are clinically deemed addicts
- approx. 60% of individuals arrested for a variety of crimes test positive for elicit drugs at the time of arrest
- Substance abuse issues play a major role in inmates cause for imprisonment
- 60-80% of drug abusers become repeat offenders after released from prison
- about 95% return to using drugs after release
- imprisonment has little effect on drug use
- unless regularly supervised while in prison, 60-80% inmates drop out of treatment before successful completion
- providing treatment without holding individual legally accountable
- drug courts are 6 times more likely to keep offenders in treatment long enough for them to get better
- proper balance between the need for treatment and the need for accountability
- Drug courts reduce crime more than any other program
- effects on crime last for years, if not decades
- Preserve families and save abused and neglected children
- parents who go through Family Drug Courts are more likely to go to treatment and complete it & their children spend significantly less time separated from them
- For every federal dollar invested in Drug Courts, $4.30 is leveraged in state fundingIf Drug Courts were expanded to treat all eligible individuals, this would save $2.14 for every $1 invested = $1.17 billion annually!
- Drug Courts save tax payers $$$ but are not reaching the many citizens who could benefit from them
Overall, by increasing the number of Drug Courts around the country, more individuals who need help along with tax payers would benefit. In addition, future criminal activity would be greatly decreased along with the financial burden of processing low-level non violent arrestees through the nation's courts and prisons. Drug courts balance the need for treatment and the need for accountability, which is not seen in the regular court system. The goal of National Drug Court Month is to raise awareness of the need & benefit of such institutions as to give those who suffer from substance abuse and addiction, along with their loved ones, hope and redemption along with improvement in public heath and community safety!
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