This article is a continuation in a series about drug abuse and addiction relates to other types of crimes. In this series, we will examine the connections that have been shown to stem, at least presumably, from effects of addictive properties, whether physical or psychological. We will also look at sociological aspects that may play a factor and what is being done to help reduce the effects that substance abuse has on our society.
Our current justice system has little effect on drug abuse
The sad truth about the number of people sitting in prison for drug abuse is that it is unlikely that many of them will get better by going through our justice system. Indeed, the return rate of addicts who have been to prison is as high as 80%, and 95% of these addicts will continue their acts of substance abuse after they have left prison. When we are a nation with a growing epidemic of drug abuse, as well as a country with a higher rate of incarceration than the largest 26 countries in Europe combined, we know that this kind of system is unsuited to address the problems that lie in front of us.
Drug courts treat non-violent offenders differently
It’s not all doom and gloom, however. One way that our system is adapting to the growing need to hand drug abuse in specific ways is through the use of drug courts. Drug courts are specially created judicial courts that are meant to take into account public health issues, as well as justice for criminal behavior. This means that they consider the need for an individual to be treated for addiction, in order for them to be truly rehabilitated. Hopefully, this is a step in a new direction for how we look at drug abuse, as a crime.
Drug courts also play a role in reducing the money that we spend on our current criminal justice system. Because of the reduction in legal costs and prison expenses, drug courts have been shown to save up to $12,000 per addict that goes through its system, when compared to the cost of putting them through the normal judicial system. Despite this, less than 10% of arrested individuals who suffer from addiction are put through drug courts. If all non-violent drug abusers were put through drug courts in an aggressive expansion of the program, it is estimated that the government could save over $30 billion, every year.