Treatment Courts Save Lives, Families And Money

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A courtroom is not a place where you expect to find scenes of celebration and tears of joy. Unless, of course, it’s drug court. This May, drug courts throughout Oklahoma will join more than 3,000 such programs nationwide in celebrating National Drug Court Month. This year alone, more than 150,000 individuals nationwide who entered the justice system due to addiction will receive lifesaving treatment and the chance to repair their lives, reconnect with their families and find long-term recovery. National Drug Court Month is a celebration of the lives restored by drug court, and it sends the powerful message that these programs must be expanded to reach more people in need.

Nearly 30 years ago, the first drug court opened its doors with a simple premise: Rather than continue to allow individuals with long histories of addiction and crime to cycle through the justice system at great expense to the public, use the leverage of the court to keep them engaged in treatment long enough to be successful. Today, drug courts and other treatment courts have proven that a combination of accountability and compassion saves lives while also saving valuable resources and reducing exorbitant criminal justice costs. The saving in Oklahoma alone are impressive. According to Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (2017), Oklahoma Drug Courts only cost $5,000 a year per participant, while incarceration with Department of Corrections costs taxpayers $19,000 a year per inmate. That is a $14,000 a year savings per participant!

 

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