...Our Drug Courts


Marijuana is not much more difficult to obtain than beer. The reason for this is that a liquor store selling beer to a minor stands to lose its liquor license. Marijuana salesmen don't have expensive overheads, and so are not easily punished.

WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.


It is not heroin or cocaine that makes one an addict, it is the need to escape from a harsh reality. There are more television addicts, more baseball and football addicts, more movie addicts, and certainly more alcohol addicts in this country than there are narcotics addicts.

REP. SHIRLEY CHISHOLM
September 17, 1969
House Select Committee on Crime


There's a shift, slowly coming in America, that people with addictions need treatment, not jail or prison. The drug courts are addressing this problem and are starting to make headway.

Some politicians, prosecutors, and law enforcement people fear and resent this change, and refuse to address the issue for fear of appearing soft on crime. Ever use drugs yourself? Know someone who does? Is compassion only for those you know? America's addicts are part of someone's family too.

Alternatives are available that would help cut crime, save money, and rebuild individual lives and communities.

• A report released in February 2001 by the Correctional Association entitled Effective Alternatives to the Drug Laws, a 1997 study by RAND's Drug Policy Research Center, and several studies by the National Institute on Drug Abuse confirm that treatment is more successful than imprisonment in fighting drug abuse, reducing recidivism rates, and preparing drug treatment participants for stable and productive lives in the community.

• The RAND study found that treatment reduces 15 times more serious crime than mandatory minimum sentences.

• The cost of keeping an inmate in NYS prison for a year is about $32,000. In comparison, the cost of most drug free outpatient care runs between $2,700-4,500 per person per year; and the cost of residential drug treatment is $17,000-$21,000 per participant per year.

In the next twelve months, 40% of all the people in America’s prisons will be back on the street. The majority of those people have some drug-related issue that put them behind bars. In Ontario County’s jail, almost everyone has some substance abuse issue in their life. Many have their troubles compounded by mental illness or learning disablities as well... two factors with huge, well-documented ties to substance abuse.

Sentencing someone to drug court is a far better consequence for their actions than jail or prison.

The Ordinary Citizen has begun documenting the journey of some of our drug court participants as they go through the system... we'll report their progress and what happens to them in an article later on. We'll use this space to add links about our drug courts and America’s drug courts as well.

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