People who have a drug addiction need treatment, not jail time

If you have been convicted of a drug crime and are lucky enough to be offered drug court as an alternative to imprisonment, you are probably wondering what the program is all about, if it works and how long you may have to take part in it. Increasingly, court systems across the country are sending drug offenders through these programs as a method of minimizing prison overcrowding and improving an addict's chance of recovery. Drug courts are particularly successful as they ensure accountability, which in turn has positive effects on addiction recovery and, if applicable, reuniting families.

How drug court ensures accountability

Offenders who find themselves in drug court are typically closely supervised by the court for a predetermined amount of time (usually a year, at minimum), and this may involve the following activities:

  • Regular drug testing
  • Regular courtroom appearances
  • Participation in addiction treatment programs
  • Participation in drug counseling

The exact nature of drug court programs tends to vary based on geography, funding and other factors, but the primary goal is to keep the addict out of prison and off drugs.

Why drug courts work

Per the National Center for Policy Analysis, 95 percent of prisoners serving time for drug-related crimes will eventually return to drug use, even if they are not sent back to prison. Those who go through a drug court program, however, are far less likely to return to prison or drug use than those who do not, and they are also six times more likely to comply with any drug test or treatment requirements than those taking part in any other common types of programs, including probation.

Why more drug courts are necessary

Currently, only about half of those eligible for drug courts have access to them, even though the costs associated with the program are far less than those associated with imprisonment. While addicts would benefit tremendously if drug courts were to become more widespread, so would taxpayers. Additionally, drug-using parents who have had their children taken away because of substance abuse have been shown to be more likely to be reunited with their children following completion of the program than those who enter traditional prison settings after committing drug crimes.

With undeniable benefits for addicts, taxpayers and families, the need for more drug court programs in the United States is obvious. If you have been convicted of a drug crime and are wondering whether drug court may be an option available to you, consider contacting an attorney.

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