Phillips & Ingrum

Drug Courts help drug offenders

By Jay Ingrum

Phillips-Ingrum-Headshots-5_finalThere are over 2 million men and women in prison in America. Over 80% of those in prison have alcohol or drug problems. Many prisoners are alcoholics and drug addicts.

In my criminal defense law practice, I see that most crime is directly or indirectly linked to alcohol and drug abuse or mental health problems or some combination of the three. Criminal defendants are sometimes arrested for an alcohol or drug offense such as DUI, simple possession, or possession for resale. Other times they are arrested for a theft or burglary that they committed while drunk or high. In other instances, criminal defendants commit violent acts such as domestic assaults or murders while impaired by alcohol or drugs. Alcohol and drug addiction is driving our crime rate in America! No one can refute this fact!

We are losing the “War on Drugs!” Something new must be done! Mass incarceration in America is not stopping recidivism. Judges and district attorneys keep seeing the same individuals over and over again coming through the justice system. Everyone wants to be tough on crime, but no one wants to raise taxes to build more prisons and hire more prison guards. Punishment and deterrence are important, but so is rehabilitation.

Drug Courts are a cheaper and better alternative to mass incarceration and should be utilized more in America. Drug courts utilize alcohol and drug treatment along with the power of the court system to provide an alternative to the repeated incarceration of the same individuals over and over again. Criminal defendants who enter into a drug court program have to undergo at least one year of contact with the court system where they receive treatment and other services. Personal accountability is vital. Random alcohol and drug tests are utilized. Judges and district attorneys are involved and get to know the criminal defendants on a first name basis. Participants are rewarded or sanctioned depending on how they do in the program. Drug Court programs reduce recidivism and reduce the cost to taxpayers.

The Sumner County Drug Court program is a great success, but it needs more support and funding from both the public and private sectors. Please ask your local and state legislators to support increased funding for the Sumner County Drug Court. Also, if you are in trouble with the law or if you have a family member or friend who is, and if alcohol and drugs are an issue, then I suggest you or your loved one consider Drug Court as an option. You will be glad that you did!