By Staff Writer
As the nation’s addiction epidemic continues to spiral out of control, experts are increasingly saying that law enforcement efforts should focus on providing substance abuse help rather than simple punishment.
One of the key vehicles of this new approach is the drug court. Communities across the country have set up these alternative sentencing programs in which, in exchange for a guilty plea, non-violent drug offenders are allowed to enter treatment programs instead of jail.
The goal of the drug court system is to help individuals beat their addictions so that they don’t have any future run-ins with the law. This helps offenders avoid jail time, which can tear apart families, and results in lower crime rates in communities.
Fran Bradley, a former state lawmaker from Minnesota, recently wrote in the Rochester Post-Bulletin that he has visited drug rehab programs and seen that they can reduce costs to the court system while helping keep families together. Under this system, he said everyone wins.
More than half of the people arrested test positive for drugs, according to the National Center for Violent Crimes.