In some instances, imprisonment may not be the best way of managing people who use illicit drugs or obtain them by illegal means. Treatment for drug abuse may be a better solution.
Drug courts are now in operation in every state in the union as well as the District of Columbia. Drug abuse offenders who meet certain requirements may be eligible for court-ordered rehabilitation.
Families Against Mandatory Minimums, or FAMM, explain that more than 40% of people imprisoned for acquiring, using or selling illicit drugs commit crimes following their release and are in prison again within three years. As an alternative to incarceration, drug courts focus on changing criminal behavior so that those who complete the program are able to build better lives.
What to expect
In the state of Maryland, a participant must have employment, must remain in the program for at least 12 months and must not have other pending charges nor be on parole. In general, drug court programs require close monitoring of those enrolled. Participants must have regular meetings with a probation officer and report to the court on their progress. They must also complete random urine testing and other drug screenings.
Benefits on completion
Since drug addiction affects the brain, the courts can treat it as a public health issue, hence the possibility of drug rehabilitation for a defendant who qualifies instead of time spent behind bars. In fact, with satisfactory completion of all drug court measures, the participant may avoid a conviction or at least earn a reduced sentence. The primary benefit of completing drug court requirements, however, is the opportunity to start down the path of a brighter future.