Twenty years ago, Miami set up the nation’s first drug court as a way to get nonviolent offenders into court-supervised drug rehab programs instead of spending time in jail. Now over 2,300 drug courts have sprung up around the country, and the Obama administration hopes to boost funding to drug courts, because these specialized courts are currently only available to a very small percentage of drug offenders.
The problem, according to advocates for drug courts, is a lack of money. There are currently about 1.2 million drug-addicted offenders and the $64 million in federal funds received by drug courts this year are not enough to treat all those who need it. The drug court association says that would take about $1.5 billion over six years, as well as matching funding from states.
Some defense attorneys say that prosecutors tend not to choose defendants with serious drug problems and that requiring defendants to plead guilty in order to get into drug courts is unfair. Still, there is evidence that the programs are working. About three quarters of drug court graduates remain arrest-free for at least two years after completing the program.
Source: Drug courts successful for few who get in, Associated Press, November 30, 2009
Contact our South Florida drug defense lawyers if you have been arrested and charged with a crime such as drug possession or trafficking.