Hybrid Court For Drug Offenders Saves County Money
Macon County is having success and saving money with a hybrid court program that's keeping drug offenders out of prison and helping them turn their lives around.
The county court combines legal oversight with treatment for drug or alcohol abusers in legal trouble.
The Herald and Review in Decatur reports the program can save the county up to $13,000 in legal and incarceration costs for each person it keeps out of prison.
A dozen people completed the court's first program in a ceremony Friday.
The requirements include a year of continuous sobriety and finding a job or volunteer work.
One participant, Shannon Coefield, told the newspaper she overcame a decade of substance abuse. She says she now has a sense of self-respect.
A drug court is a specialty court for drug abuse cases, using supervision, drug testing, treatment and sanctions/incentives. The philosophy of a drug court is that while incarceration may be appropriate for some defendants, for many, society is better served by addressing the underlying causes of a defendant's addiction. Research has found drug court programs to be effective in reducing drug use and related crime as well as to be more cost-effective than traditional criminal justice methods. The cost to taxpayers for incarcerating a defendant is approximately $24,000 per year, versus $5,000 a year for the cost of treatment for a Drug Court participant. Drug courts handle more than 120,000 clients per year and have more than a million graduates in all 50 states and 15 countries.
Justice Jeffrey B. Ford founded the Champaign County Drug Court in 1999. The mission of the Champaign County Drug Court is to develop substance-free, productive citizens and break the cycle of criminal recidivism. Caroline Cooper has been a practicing attorney, an assistant public defender, and has written numerous publications addressing a variety of judicial system issues relating to the management of criminal, civil, juvenile and family matters. Her most recent publications have addressed topics relating to drug courts, civil and criminal differentiated case management, and strategies courts are using to manage their caseloads, including the multi-volume reports of the 1997 and 2000 National Drug Court Surveys and Drug Case Management and Treatment Intervention Strategies in the State and Local Courts.