Yay Drug Courts! It’s hard to find anyone these days with much of anything bad to say about drug courts. These alternative sentencing vehicles are saving tax payers a huge amount of money, they are freeing up space in overcrowded jails, they are helping people in need beat terrible addictions, reuniting families and the recidivism rates for drug court graduates are far lower than for offenders processed through the traditional court system. Yay! Seriously, they work, and they save everyone money, and it’s great news that drug courts are now in operation in all 50 states, with a total of 2000 in operation or in the works. But They have created a rather strange set of circumstances.
- If you are poor, addicted to drugs and alcohol and really want some help to get better – but are not a criminal – you are out of luck.
- If you are poor, addicted to drugs or alcohol, don’t care if you get help or not, and commit crimes – then you get free drug treatment.
It’s an absurdity, and I have spoken with a few people over the last months who find themselves in this frustrating predicament. It seems to them, that the only way they are going to be able to get drug treatment, is by being arrested for a crime. Not ideal Drug courts aren’t going away, nor should they. They work better than the traditional court system, they are more humane and they treat the root cause of such a lot of the criminal behavior in this country today. But why should we wait to provide funding for people only after they commit crimes? Why not give them a leg up before it gets to that stage? Let’s keep the drug courts, but expand the programming so that anyone in need can have access to the same sorts of treatment programs. Maybe that will cut down on the eventual need for courts and drug courts alike, while saving a great deal of tax-payer money on everything from law-enforcement to welfare to health care. Besides, it’s the right thing to do – and it’s only fair.