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

Many people who commit drug-related offenses are sentenced to jail for a predetermined amount of time, and many of those offenders who go on to become inmates find that their addiction issues remain or even intensify before they return to society. Part of this is likely due to the broad availability of drugs in many prison systems, and part of this can also be attributed to the fact that these addicts-turned-inmates are not getting their addictions treated in the first place.

Recognizing this, many states have gone on to operate drug courts or programs that are sometimes offered to addicts as an alternative to imprisonment. Generally, drug courts involve regular monitoring and drug testing of participants for a predetermined period (usually no less than a year), and during this time, addicts receive counseling, therapy and drug treatment. They also may be rewarded for good behavior and adhering to the rules of the court, or they may be released from the program and sent to jail if they fail to meet its demands. The fact that drug courts are not yet an option for addicts in all areas is regrettable, because, to put it simply, they work. Here is how:

They save money

Contrary to popular belief, drug courts cost taxpayers far less than housing a drug offender in the prison system. So much so, in fact, that the National Association of Drug Court Professionals reports that as much as $3.36 can be saved for every $1 invested into a drug court program. Furthermore, each participant who goes through drug court saves anywhere from $3,000 - $13,000 dollars by reducing the need for housing, prosecution following future arrests and so on.

They minimize crime

Drug courts have also been shown to considerably reduce recidivism and crime, and this is particularly true when compared with traditional sentencing options. A whopping three-quarters of all drug court graduates remain free from arrest for the two years immediately following the program, and additional studies indicate that graduates are unlikely to reoffend for an even longer period.

They help reunite families

Studies indicate that offenders who effectively complete drug court programs are 50 percent more likely to be successfully reunited with their families than offenders sentenced to prison. Children of those involved in drug court have also been shown to spend less time in the care of others, such as foster families, when compared with children whose parents receive traditional jail sentences.

The statistics are indisputable - drug courts do their job. A local attorney may be able to tell you more about whether drug courts are available in your area.

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