Better Than Jail

Recently I had a gratifying experience….I went to Drug Court. No, I wasn’t in any trouble; I was invited by a friend in our county’s probation department. According to our friend Wikipedia, “drug courts are problem-solving courts in which the judiciary, prosecution, defense bar, probation, law enforcement, mental health, social service, and treatment communities work together to help addicted offenders into long-term recovery.”

More simply, Drug Court is a way for addicted persons who have committed non-violent crimes to stay out of jail while getting the help they need to overcome their addiction. A team, led by the judge, works with the offender on a plan that might include community service, addiction therapy, peer counseling, restitution, life skills training, employment or housing assistance, residential treatment or other elements all designed to help the offender reach long-term recovery.

Do Drug Courts work? You bet. Research shows that Drug Court cost less than jail, lowers recidivism and more important, increases the success rate of those trying to overcome their addictions.

Now back to my visit to Drug Court. I was so impressed with the compassion and lack of judgment exhibited by court personnel even as they firmly challenged the offender to stay with the program and take responsibility for their lives. With my background as a minister, it almost felt like a religious experience. It was truly redemptive for both court personnel, offenders and for me personally.

There is hope for those struggling with addiction, and I am so grateful that our county offers this option for addicted offenders. For some, it’s a path forward that is much better than jail.