Accountability, Healing Served Up in Drug Court
In just three years, the West Virginia’s Southern Regional Drug Court has given more than 100 people a chance to stand up to addiction, heal their families and find new meaning in life.
While the local court is still young, the United States will mark 20 years of Drug Court initiatives nationwide.
An estimated 80 percent of offenders abuse drugs or alcohol, and the Bureau of Justice estimates that nearly 50 percent of jail and prison inmates are clinically addicted.
And, it appears that imprisonment has little impact on drug abuse. According to statistics Helton cited this week, approximately 95 percent of offenders return to drug abuse after release from prison.
These numbers and national trends have garnered the attention of leaders all the way to the White House.
“I believe that we need to help those addicted to drugs and alcohol, not simply throw them in jail without any sort of treatment program ...” Vice President Joe Biden said, touting his landmark Biden Crime Law supporting the creation of alternative sentencing programs. “Not only does the program work, but it saves thousands of dollars per offender each year in prison costs alone, not to mention the societal costs saved by having one less drug user on the street.”
Attorney General Eric Holder agreed.
“This is crime fighting. This is tough. But you save money in the long run,” Holder said recently. “It is government at its best. It is helping people win when they are at their most vulnerable moment.”