Is treatment for drug offenders more cost-effective than prison?

In society today, many have the attitude of “lock them up and throw away the key” for those who commit drug crimes. While this may seem like a simple solution to get criminals or drug users off the streets, the reality is that it may not be the most cost-effective way to deal with drug addiction or repeat offenders.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, drug addiction affects behavior and is considered a disease, therefore treatment is necessary for recovery. The exact success rates of these programs vary based on the available treatment and the individual, but many courts are moving toward a treatment-centered approach rather than strict traditional incarceration.

Does imprisonment help with addiction?

Studies show that incarcerated individuals have a 60-80 percent chance of committing a new crime after they are released from jail or prison if they do not receive treatment. Even though individuals are forced to remain clean while incarcerated, close to 95 percent return to drugs after their release. These numbers show a stark reality when it comes to rehabilitating those convicted of drug crimes.

How do drug courts work?

Drug courts are valuable alternatives to incarceration and work to find the balance between accountability and treatment. If someone is arrested for a drug crime and required to enter a treatment program, he or she is six times more likely to stay in treatment long enough to find ways to fight the drug addiction.

The specifics of the drug court are different for each situation and carefully weighed in court before a decision is made. Many drug addicts never learn to cope with the triggers that send them back to drugs, and treatment is designed to teach offenders to identify and deal with these issues before they end up back in jail or prison for another crime.

How do offenders determine eligibility for treatment through drug court?

Anyone who has been arrested for a drug crime and thinks he or she may benefit from a court-ordered treatment plan should meet with an attorney to discuss the case today.