One judge's opinion: Treatment Courts Save You Money
"How do we measure success in drug courts? According to the Oregon Department of Corrections, the average recidivism rate (re-offense rate) of felons 36 months after release from prison is 30 percent. It costs Oregon taxpayers $67.53 per day to house an inmate in prison. That is $24,648.45 per year, and for an average 77-month mandatory prison sentence that costs the public $158,160.88.
This does not count the cost of post-prison supervision, court appointed counsel, the cost of police officers to investigate arrest and process suspects, the cost of district attorney’s offices to prosecute the defendants or of local jails to hold them pending adjudication and the cost of court staff, court operations and judges.
It also does not count the public cost often incurred for supporting defendants’ children while they are incarcerated or the high cost of damages and injuries to the victims of their crimes.
A conservative estimate based on all these costs is that a typical chronic drug addicted offender will cost the public well over one million dollars before he is done committing crime.
Drug courts are not cheap. On average it costs approximately $20,000 to graduate a defendant from drug court including treatment costs. However, considering that the recidivism rate for Linn County’s drug court graduates is less than 16 percent, we are saving hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars with this program and saving untold numbers of citizens from being victims.
You cannot measure the success of these courts merely in dollars saved. People working in drug courts here in Oregon and across the nation see people’s lived turned around, families saved, dignity restored, and people otherwise headed for a failed life of prison and crime transform themselves into the kind of person most anyone would welcome as a neighbor.
Another bonus is the dozens of drug-free babies born of successful drug court graduates who are staying drug free. These babies would most likely have been born drug affected or addicted without the drug court programs."