TaxWatch: Drug courts save money

first_imgIf the Young Lawyers Division is looking for a worthwhile project, Florida TaxWatch has a suggestion: Make sure more drug courts are funded.Harvey Bennett, vice president of communications and marketing, speaking at the YLD Legislative/Governmental Symposium in Orlando, extolled the success of Florida’s drug courts, launched in the late ’80s, now serving more than 10,000 people.“There are tremendous success stories out there on drug treatment,” Bennett said. Besides helping people beat their addictions, he told of the economic benefits.“The alternative often is a jail, a prison sentence, and increased costs to local and/or state government. And drug court programs do work. They save incarceration costs of $20,000 to $50,000 per inmate annually, compared to $2,500 to $4,000 a year for drug court programs. Drug court graduates’ recidivism is at roughly half the rate of non-drug court participants (27 percent and 48 percent respectively).”Rep. Holly Benson, R-Pensacola, and chair of the House Select Committee on Article V, explained, “We support the concept.” The state will still fund existing drug court programs, she said, but the state is not going to fund additional programs. That will be an option for individual counties to fund.Citing a 1999 report by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Bennett said, “Every dollar spent on drug court treatment programs yields a $4 to $7 savings in reduced drug-related crime, criminal justice system costs, law enforcement, prosecutions, corrections, as well as health care.”In addition, he said, there are savings from reducing inter-personal conflicts, drug-related accidents, and increasing workplace productivity.“Their discontinuation would likely increase domestic and criminal cases in the long term and correctional expenses in the short time, because those who might otherwise be diverted to alternative programs must now be incarcerated,” Bennett said.“In fact, may I suggest that if the Young Lawyers Section of The Florida Bar would be looking for a constructive way to contribute to our justice system, helping to sustain drug courts, from our research, would be a very good place to start.” TaxWatch: Drug courts save money February 15, 2004 Regular Newscenter_img TaxWatch: Drug courts save moneylast_img

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