George F. Hildebrandt
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New York's drug offenders need treatment, not incarceration

If you are like many of New York's drug offenders facing criminal charges, the charges may have arisen because of your addiction itself, not because you are prone to engaging in illicit or criminal activity. Recognizing that many drug offenders commit crimes in an effort to feed their addictions, many states have enacted drug court programs, which aim not only to hold criminal offenders accountable but to also treat the underlying problem of the addiction.

If you have the opportunity to take part in drug court as opposed to serving a sentence behind bars, know that these programs offer ample proven benefits.

Ensure compliance

If you ever tried to beat your addiction "cold turkey" or otherwise on your own, you probably know just how difficult this can be. Because drug courts require regular drug tests and appearances before a judge, you are far more likely to stay in the program and work toward beating your drug addiction than you would be otherwise.

Help reunite families

Your children may also reap the benefits of your participation in drug court. Your chance of successfully reuniting with your family is 50 percent higher with the completion of drug court than it would be otherwise. Your kids are also substantially less likely to have to live in out-of-home settings, such as in the care of foster parents, because of your actions.

Save communities considerable money

Studies show that every dollar that goes toward drug court saves communities as much as $3.36 in return. Furthermore, with things like prison health care costs and additional victimizations factored in, drug courts can save as much as $27 for every dollar put into the program.

You, your family and your surrounding community may all benefit from your successful completion of a drug court program. While such programs may not be an option for all charged with drug crimes, those who get the opportunity can find their lives changed for the better.

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