Drug Court and Drug Rehab
What if we could find a way to help those addicted to drugs and save money at the same time? That would be a solution worth trumpeting. A recent study underwritten by the National Institute of Justice is touting drug courts as just that sort of solution.
A desire to be tough on drug-related crime in recent decades has resulted in more prison inmates. The cost to the state of housing and processing drug offenders is high. Not only that, but, statistically speaking, putting young men behind bars has not been proven to halt the drug problem. Instead, recidivism rates (the number of men who become repeat offenders and re-enter prison), especially for juveniles, is unacceptably high.
Enter state-appointed drug courts. These courts tend to favor drug rehab over incarceration and the National Institute of Justice study shows that their approach seems to be successful on every side. By intervening early and assigning drug rehab to juveniles, state prison costs are brought down. The study showed that drug courts are also effective in reducing recidivism rates (52 percent of drug court participants versus 62 percent of traditional court participants). Keeping young men in drug rehab rather than in company with hardened, drug abusing criminals seems to pay off – quite literally.
Nationwide there are approximately 2,600 drug courts in operation. Around 450 of those courts are dedicated to juvenile offenders. Federal officials say that $74 billion is spent on state and federal prisons each year. Given the evidence that drug courts effectively reduce state prison costs and keep young men from repeating drug offenses, they deserve wider embrace.