Maybe Locking Up Drug Addicts Isn’t the Answer
Within our society, there is a gleaming stigma against the drug addicted. We have been taught to believe that if someone uses drugs and commits a crime they should be locked away and shunned for their lifetime. Their past continues to haunt them, even if they have changed their old addictive ways. Everyone deserves a second chance at life, so why do we outcast someone who struggles with this horrible disease? Drug addiction and crime can destroy lives and rip apart families. Drug courts give individuals an opportunity to repair the wreckage of their past and mend what was once lost. Throughout this paper, I will demonstrate why drug courts are more beneficial to an addict than lengthy prison sentences.
“The nation 's first drug court was established in Florida in 1989, and there are now more than 2,500 operating nationwide” (Rankinf and Teegardin). From that moment in 1989, America’s judicial system decided to re-evaluate how the courts had been approaching drug addiction and crime. Instead of incarceration periods that could last several years for drug related crimes, the courts decided to implement drug courts in some counties to offer the treatment and supported needed in order to break the cycle of addiction. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, “among state prisoners released in 30 states in 2005,” within 5 years of release, “76.9% of drug offenders were arrested for a new crime” (bjs.gov). Furthermore, according to the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, “Nationwide, 75% of Drug Court graduates remain arrest-free at least two years after leaving the program,” “Rigorous studies examining long-term outcomes of individual Drug...
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Unlike the generous rewards set forth by drug court after competition. Inmates who are either incarcerated for their crimes or receive state or federal sentences allowing them to participate in the prisons drug therapeutic community program, are not offered the life changing opportunity of expungement for their crimes. Which means that these offenders must carry a lifetime record often barring them from higher paying employment, suitable housing, and immense guilt and shame for their past.
In closing, drug courts have proven over the years that they are a viable alternative to lengthy prison sentences for defendants with drug related crimes and a hunted past. The drug court model inspires people who once were hopeless and felt destined to a life of drug and criminal activity to break the chains of addiction by reforming their lives with the courts support.
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