Many people in Louisiana face drug charges and end up doing jail or prison time. Unfortunately, for those who deal with a serious drug problem or addiction, incarceration only delays dealing with the problem, and many end up right back where they started once their sentence is over.
An alternative to incarceration
According to the Louisiana Supreme Court, drug courts have been in use for more than 20 years in the state to make the justice system more cost-effective and compassionate. The state legislature determined that the courts were necessary to reduce drug and alcohol addiction and crimes committed because of these societal problems.
To address these issues in 1997, the state implemented drug courts. Within two decades, the state had more than 75 Specialty Court programs. More than 15,000 people have completed those programs since their inception. The courts fall under the following categories:
- Family Preservation/Intervention Drug Courts
- Juvenile Drug Courts
- Adult Drug Courts
The state tasks each court with dealing with the specific challenges that arise in these different situations. For the most part, the state reports that graduates have lived sober, productive, full lives after completing court.
What is the benefit to the taxpayer?
The National Association of Drug Court Professionals states that communities receive more than $3 in benefits for every $1 invested in these courts. The organization also reports that graduates of drug courts have a recidivism rate of only 9.9% while over 90% of graduates remain free of legal troubles for at least three years. These numbers show that drug courts may be the future of dealing with drug problems, rather than arrests and incarceration.