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Do drug courts work?

If authorities find you using, possessing, selling or manufacturing drugs and you find yourself facing a drug-related criminal charge, you may have to pay steep fines, fulfill substance abuse treatment requirements or even spend time in jail as a result. This does not necessarily have to be the case for all drug offenders, however. In some circumstances, criminal offenders who commit drug-related crimes that are not violent in nature may be able to participate in drug court as an alternative to spending time in jail.

So, what can you expect if you attend a drug court program, and can they actually help addicts kick their drug habit for good? The National Institute of Justice sponsored a 10-year study of one American drug court program to get a better understanding of its effectiveness.

Positive benefits

Drug courts, by nature, all but force accountability by requiring that participants undergo regular drug testing if they wish to remain in the program. Drug court participants also must regularly appear in front of drug court judges, and this, too, can help offenders avoid using drugs for the program’s duration.

In addition to giving addicts a fighting chance at beating their drug addictions for good, drug courts also statistically lower the chances that those participating in these programs will re-offend and find their way back into the criminal justice system. The 10-year study on drug court effectiveness and outcomes revealed that two years following completion of drug court, the felony re-arrest rate for participants dropped dramatically. In one county, for example, the felony re-arrest rate fell to 35 percent from 50 percent, while in another county, it fell from 40 percent to 12 percent.

While drug courts can help some offenders kick their habits and avoid jail and re-arrests, they can also save communities substantial money. If you face a drug charge and think drug court may help you find the fresh start you need, consider finding out whether it may be an option for you.

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