Short Paper on Drug Courts
Currently in the United States, there are over 2 million people incarcerated in the country’s prisons and jails. Out of this population, approximately one-quarter of these inmates have been convicted of a drug offense. With drug offense arrests increasing nationwide and the prison population increasing similarly, an alternative to incarceration has been implemented over the past two decade in many cities across the country. This alternative is in the form of local drug courts that are now found in most major cities in the United States. A drug court is a specialized court in which the judge, prosecutor, public defender or private attorney, probation officers, and treatment counselors work in tandem to help chemically dependent offenders obtain needed treatment and rehabilitation in an attempt to break the cycle of addiction and further criminal offenses.
Some argue that treatment, rather than incarceration, is a waste of time and valuable resources that could be used elsewhere. Research, however, has shown that court-ordered treatment is the best option for drug offenders. Treatment through drug court has proven to be less expensive than incarceration. In addition, it has shown to reduce crime and has provided a lower relapse and re-arrest rate for offenders that have gone through treatment then those who have not.
There are many individuals who hold opposing views of the use of drug courts. There are arguments that by letting drug offenders avoid incarceration, the justice system is only giving offenders an easier punishment for their crimes. Some people feel that over the long term, treatment will cost more than sending the offender to prison for their sentence. And lastly, there are those that feel that coerced treatment from the courts has little effect on the offender staying clean and free of committing crimes. All of these arguments are valid; however, research into these facts has provided the conclusion that drug courts provide positive outcomes that outweigh these arguments.