George F. Hildebrandt
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Could drug court help keep you out of jail?

Many people make an error in judgment that results in a drug-related criminal charge. They may have valid concerns about the potential repercussions they may face, and particularly if jail time is on the line. Depending on certain factors, such as whether they have an existing criminal history and the specifics and severity of the drug charge, they may be able to participate in a drug court program as opposed to serving time behind bars.

Drug courts, per the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, are closely supervised programs available to some drug offenders that typically involve regular drug tests and appearances before a judge. While not everyone is an appropriate candidate for drug court, statistics show that these programs offer very real benefits, and that they are far superior to many other programs in terms of forcing accountability and helping addicts free themselves from their habits for good.

Fulfilling a need

Overcrowding is a serious problem plaguing the majority of American prisons, and about 50 percent of inmates serving time in jail or prison already have existing, clinical drug addictions. Drug courts offer addicts who are also criminal offenders something prison does not: an opportunity to beat their addictions, and in doing so, an opportunity to abandon criminal behavior. They do so by still holding addicts accountable for their actions, but striking a necessary balance between punishment and much-needed assistance.

By the numbers

Just how effective are today's drug courts? In addition to helping addicts kick their drug addictions, drug courts reduce criminal behavior for an extended period of time that falls somewhere between three and 14 years. Drug courts are also helping methamphetamine addicts break free from the grip of addiction, reducing methamphetamine use by as much as 50 percent when compared with outpatient treatment on its own.

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