Addiction is not easy to handle. It is often a factor in drug-related crimes, but is prison always the answer? If you know someone who is struggling with addiction or have yourself, you might be inclined to suggest an alternative – like drug court.
Drug courts, though not available in all areas, exist to help combat addiction and hold the offender accountable for his or her actions. Addressing the underlying issue of addiction with counseling and treatment not only gives them the help they need, but it can also reduce the likelihood that they will become repeat offenders.
Research has shown that drug courts have the following positive effects on those who suffer from addiction, their families and their communities.
They save taxpayer money
According to the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, drug courts typically save anywhere from $3,000 to $13,000 per participant by reducing prison costs and the expenditures associated with subsequent arrests. Furthermore, taxpayers keep as much as $3.36 for every $1 they invest into drug court programs.
They keep offenders following the rules
Drug courts are able to address the crux of the issue, the addiction itself, in a manner that simply imprisoning an offender cannot. A drug court participant is six times more likely to remain in drug treatment until it works than those who are placed behind bars. Without someone supervising them in a setting such as a drug court, 70 percent of people with an addiction s ultimately leave treatment entirely, considerably enhancing the chances they will reoffend.
They help minimize crime and criminal behavior
When you compare traditional imprisonment to related sentencing options, research shows that drug courts reduce crime by almost 50 percent. Furthermore, about three-quarters of all program graduates are still arrest-free for two or more years after completing treatment through drug court.
They help reunite families
When a child’s parent is addicted to an illegal or controlled substance, research also demonstrates that children with parents enrolled in drug court spend far less time in residential placement than children with parents sentenced to time behind bars. Furthermore, family reunification rates spike considerably for those who take part in a drug court program.
Given how effective drug courts are at reducing crime, reuniting families torn apart by addiction and reducing one’s chances of reoffending, it is regrettable that they are not yet available to all U.S. drug offenders.