Cartel wars in Mexico, meth lab raids at home, drug violence spilling onto the streets - considering the media's usual angle, it is no small wonder that many individuals only see steel bars and hard time as the best way to address drug crimes. But, a far more effective, intelligent solution is quietly working its magic behind the scenes, proving itself time and time again in the courtrooms of the Chicago suburbs.
Defendants whose Schaumburg drug possession lawyers are able to secure them a place in drug court have been able to avoid prison, criminal records and relapses into bad behavior. Trading in prison for treatment has been good not only for those charged with drug crimes - it also promises great rewards to the public at large.
What Is Drug Court?
Drug court is one of the best-kept secrets of the Illinois criminal justice system. Usually conducted as a special program within standard criminal courts, drug court is designed to provide drug-addicted defendants with successful drug treatment as an alternative to confinement.
The precise requirements vary by jurisdiction, but generally drug court participants must stay alcohol and drug free (which may be confirmed through random testing), complete a drug treatment program, and be either employed or attending school. Defends who live up to drug court requirements may have the charges against them dropped or have their sentences reduced or eliminated.
Good for Defendants, Good for the Public
The benefits of drug courts for defendants are obvious: avoiding prison time and a damaging criminal record. But, other Illinois residents also reap rewards.
The average cost for a year of drug court is estimated to be $2,000, compared to $23,000 for incarceration. That translates into annual taxpayer savings of $21,000 for every defendant diverted from prison into drug court.
Drug court also helps reduce the costs, both monetary and in terms of public safety, associated with repeat offenders. The reported recidivism rate for traditional models of conviction and incarceration is 45 percent, while drug courts report average recidivism rates between five and 28 percent. Results in the Chicago suburbs are consistent with national norms; for instance, between 2002 and 2007, 80 percent of the 519 graduates from Kane County's drug court program had no further criminal record.
An Illinois Drug Crime Lawyer Can Help You Get Into Drug Court
Drug courts offer non-violent offenders a chance to get their lives back on track, paying dividends both to defendants and the general public. If you have been charged with a drug crime, contact a criminal defense lawyer to help you take advantage of everything drug court has to offer.