People in Utah may not know much about the state’s drug court program, which allows people accused of simple drug possession offenses to seek treatment instead of incarceration. While the program was initially very controversial and viewed by law enforcement as being soft on crime, over the past two decades the value of the drug court has shown itself time and time again, with hundreds of small victories each and every time a person got their lives turned around in the program. Now, with Utah celebrating the 20th anniversary of its drug court programs, the verdict is in, the drug court is a success.
Some of the positive results include the fact that it is saving taxpayers lots of money. By some estimates, the state can send a defendant through a drug court program at less than one-sixth the cost of housing the same offender in state prison. It has also been shown that people who graduate the program are less likely to commit another criminal offense than those who are sent to prison.
Utah has seen over 2,500 people graduate the drug court program, and the number of lives it has touched for the better is far greater. Not only does drug court help the patient, it helps their families, friends and loved ones who see a better, cleaner and more hopeful person emerge from the program with the skills to beat their addictions and aspire to bigger things in their lives.
Drug court is available to most people who are accused of possession or use of a controlled substance and other drug crimes. Rather than face jail or prison time, they may be able to enter the program, and if they complete the program successfully their underlying offense may be dismissed. However, it is not available to every offender, which is why people may need the help of a criminal defense attorney.
Source: Salt Lake Tribune, “Utah celebrates 20 years of saving lives through drug court,” Greg Skordas, Sept. 29, 2015