Drug Court Attendees Could Benefit from Online Drug Class

by Mike Miller December 28, 2011

With the prevalence of drugs in society today it is no surprise that courts around the country are clogged by people arrested for drugs. One of the answers is drug courts.

It’s been a long time coming, but this is a modern approach to the drug scourge that we need to take. Drug abuse isn’t something that will be wiped out in our lifetime, our children’s lifetime or probably ever, but it’s also something that can’t be ignored.

High Cost of Jailing Users

So lock up the users, right? Fine, but better get out your checkbook. It costs about $25,000 a year to house an inmate. Then you’ve got a 50/50 shot at paying that “tuition” again. And the incarceration style nets a 45 percent recidivism rate, compared with drug courts, for which studies report a recidivism rate of between 5 percent and 28 percent.

There are 2,500 drug courts across the country.

Legalization is a tempting answer for some, but it’s a shortsighted solution poisoned by the naive notion that drug abuse only affects the addict. If that were the case, a colder approach might be warranted. Addiction is a real disease, but it’s a disease brought on by poor choices and one that can be managed only by better choices.

Drug abuse destroys families. It harms communities to the point of destroying urban neighborhoods. Property crimes and violent crimes are higher among drug abusers. That wouldn’t change if drug use itself were legal.

The Stats

It’s impossible to say with certainty what the exact impact of drug use has on the criminal justice system, but here are some U.S. Department of Justice statistics based on a survey of prison inmates:

  • 29 percent of state inmates reported being under the influence of drugs when committing a violent crime.
  • 22 percent of state inmates reported having used drugs when committing weapons offenses.
  • 36 percent of state inmates reported being under the influence while committing property crimes.
  • 19 percent of state prisoners also reported that they committed their most current offense to get money for drugs.

Drug court isn’t designed for Johnny who got caught with a one-hitter while driving mom’s car. It’s aimed at felony offenders, particularly those who have shown a history of repeat criminal offenses as a result of drug abuse. These are the offenders who are straining the criminal justice system.

Offenders must admit their offense and voluntarily subject themselves to the program, which includes treatment, intensive probation, as many as three random drug screenings in a week, and more direct judicial oversight.

In exchange for their success in the program, offenders will have their charges dropped.

Hopefully, for the addict’s sake and the community’s sake, the other benefit will be an end to the cycle one participant at a time. Keep your eyes out and ears open for other stories as to the success of drug courts. Reducing recidivism is a key to fighting this war!

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