The verdict is in on Drug Courts. It has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Drug Courts work. Drug Courts significantly reduce drug abuse and crime and do so at less expense than any other justice strategy.
That is why the historic 1994 Biden Crime Bill authorized $1 billion for the Drug Court Discretionary Grant Program, administered by the Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs. The intent of the Biden Crime Bill at the time was to expand Drug Court funding to $200 million annually by the year 2000. Unfortunately the DOJ federal appropriation has averaged only $40 million and saw its lowest level in 2006 at a mere $10 million.
But the attitude in Washington is changing. Earlier this year, Congress approved $64 million for Drug Courts; the highest federal appropriation for the program in its 20 year history, with another $118 million earmarked for 2010.
Drug Courts need $250 million per year for the next six years--essentially as was originally envisioned in the Crime Bill -- in order to put a Drug Court within reach of the 1.2 million adult offenders who need it and to truly begin to heal America's number one social problem...addiction.
What Will be the Return on the Investment?
A $250 million annual Federal investment would reap staggering savings, with an estimated annual return of as much as $840 million in net benefits from avoided criminal justice costs alone and another 2.2 billion in savings to our communities. A $250 million annual Federal investment would also substantially reduce the demand for illicit drugs and enable state and local governments to cease over-relying on expensive and ineffective prison sentences for nonviolent, addicted offenders.
What's your opinion? Is this one area where the Obama administration might be making significant improvements? Do you agree with General McCaffrey that "America's number one social problem" is addiction? Do you agree that locking addicts up is not the solution?
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