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Drug Courts: Alternative to Drug-related Incarcerations

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The efficacy and recognition of America’s drug courts are gaining attention and momentum. A quick search engine perusal will yield daily links to news articles recounting the various struggles and successes of those people suffering from the terrible consequences of a life riddled with non-violent criminal activity mixed with drug or alcohol abuse. People who are fortunate enough to be matriculated into what can be a very advantageous system offer tremendous testimonies that should serve to encourage more and more local municipalities to adopt these cost-effective and strategic rehabilitation alternatives.

Drug Rehabilitation

Even though drug courts are maintained and operated on the local level, under state jurisdiction, the Federal Government, under President Obama’s 2012 Fiscal Year Budget plan, allocated over 100 million dollars to advancing and supporting the facilitation of state-level drug courts and other similar entities. The White House even provides a helpful fact-sheet that outlines this “[smarter] approach to criminal justice.” The drug court system is certainly evocative of 18th century Enlightenment social reformer Cesare Beccaria, who advocated a modus operandi of preventing (non-violent) crimes rather than simply and explicitly punishing them. Beccaria’s rhetoric is quite persuasive in a modern context; the White House’s fact-sheet explains drug court model “offers State and local governments a cost‐effective way to increase the percentage of addicted offenders who achieve sustained recovery, thereby improving public safety and reducing costs associated with re‐arrest and additional incarceration. Every $1 spent on drug courts yields more than $2 in savings in the criminal justice system alone.”

Drug Court Statistics

Of course, the nuanced statistics of success verses failure in drug-court systems tend to cast a sterile pallor over the dual realities of triumphs and tragedies of drug addicts and alcoholics. Nevertheless, it is always encouraging to read of the recovery of people’s lives who endeavored to willfully put in the effort and work on themselves demanded in a drug court, rather than simply enduring incarceration that holds arguably little probability and profitability for personal rehabilitation and reform. Corrective measures and treatment options can be court-ordered, but not the volition required for truly changing one’s life. The combination of a hopeful offender looking to right the wrongs in their life and a drug court available to aid in circumspect rehabilitation is a combination worth supporting.

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