States Look to Drug Courts to Bring Down Corrections Cost

By Staff Writer

The cost of sending a drug offender to jail for several years can be astronomical. Given the fact that many states’ budgets are in rough shape right now, lawmakers are looking to alternative sentencing programs, which often include drug rehab, to help addicts get clean rather than go to jail.

State representatives in New Mexico recently proposed such a law, according to the Associated Press. The bill would allow non-violent drug offenders to seek addiction treatment instead of incurring a prison sentence.

Officials told the news source that the proposal could eliminate between 2,000 and 3,000 court cases each year. This would result in dramatically lower court and correction costs. It would have the added benefit of reducing the number of repeat offenders.

This type of “drug court” program has become extremely popular throughout the country in recent years. Officials see it as a way to benefit affected individuals by helping them kick their addiction while at the same time benefiting the community through lower correction costs and less crime.

Currently, there are more than 2,140 drug courts throughout the U.S., according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy. All 50 states either currently operate a program or have plans to start one soon.