Prisons to Drug Courts: Opting for better life

Prisons to Drug Courts: Opting for better life

Despite umpteen measures, the United States of America’s struggle to control drug overdose deaths continues. Not just deaths, drugs are a major reason behind the rising number of prisoners. During 1993 to 2011, there were 3 million admissions into federal and state prisons for drug offenses. Over the same period, there were 30 million arrests for drug crimes, 24 million of which were for possession.

What is a matter of greater concern is that 80 percent of the offenders in prison abused drugs or alcohol, nearly 50 percent inmates were clinically addicted and almost 60 percent tested positive for drugs at the time of arrest. These statistics are relevant because approximately 60 to 80 percent drug abusers commit a new crime as soon as they are released from prison and the post-incarceration crime is normally drug-driven.

Further, 95 percent of the offenders return to drug abuse after their release. Seeing the statistics, it is evident that incarcerating people is not a solution. To end this vicious cycle of abuse and incarceration, the concept of Drug Courts was introduced, so that treatment through drug detox rehab treatment centers could be encouraged.

What is a Drug Court?

Drug Courts are judicially-supervised court dockets that strike a balance between the need for treatment and the need to hold people accountable for their actions. These keep nonviolent individuals dependent on drugs in treatment for long periods of time and supervise them closely.

They receive treatment and other services required to stay clean and lead productive lives, but are also held accountable by a judge for meeting their own obligations to the society, themselves and their families. They are regularly and randomly tested for drug use and are required to regularly appear in court for a review of their progress.

Eligibility criteria

Not all offenders can be a part of the Drug Court program. Eligible offenders need to apply for admission to the program and only when their applications are approved by the stakeholders are they admitted to the program. The eligibility criteria for the Drug Court varies by location.

Many local and state governments have implemented Drug Courts in the recent years. There are different types of drug courts that have been established to address the issues of a particular class or section of the society, such as adult drug courts, juvenile drug courts, mental health courts, or one for veterans, amongst others.

There are several jurisdictions that are still on a pilot program; adopting the drug court program for a while to observe and evaluate the outcome. Cities like Lynchburg, which are still in the pilot stage, have already witnessed positive effects with at least half of the offenders completing the program successfully.


An evaluation by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) found that individuals who were a part of the Drug Courts had fewer rearrests (52 percent) compared to other offenders (62 percent). Similarly, they were also likely to report lower drug usage and were even less likely to test positive for drugs.

As per the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, taxpayers save as much as $3.36 in avoided incarceration costs for every $1 invested in treatment courts. In fact, the overall cost saved per offender varied between $5,680 and $6,208.

Seeking addiction treatment

Drug abuse is more of a psychological problem, which consequentially becomes a medical issue and a social menace. No doubt that Drug Courts are meant to assist in reducing crime and drug use by restoring lives and facilitating rehabilitation of the offenders. There is, however, no denying the fact that drug abuse is a menace which is rotting the social and moral fabric of the American society.

To bring the drug menace under control, seeking treatment is equally important. Detoxification paves the way for recovery. If you or a loved one is dependent on a substance, the Rapid Detox Helpline can connect you to credible detox treatment centers. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-403-5591 or chat online with our representatives for information on the best rapid detox programs.