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What is drug court?

Across America and in Oklahoma, prisons are rapidly becoming overcrowded due to budget issues, strict penalties for first-time offenders and high rates of repeat offenders. Instead of addressing the root problems leading to criminal activity, the justice system focuses on punishment.

No doubt many criminals do need to be in prison, but you are probably not one of them. An arrest for drug possession, whether your first or fifth, should not automatically lead to incarceration. Prison time usually does not lead to positive life changes and long-term sobriety. Fortunately, you may be eligible for another option: drug court.

What is drug court?

Drug court is an alternative penalty for certain nonviolent drug and alcohol crimes with the goal of rehabilitation. It entails a structured, supervised program with several phases to complete. It typically includes:

  • Detox and random testing
  • Health care (treatment, diagnosis, medication)
  • Counseling
  • Life skills education
  • Community service

Graduation not only depends on time in the program but also on individual progress, so the length can differ from person to person. However, you can plan on it taking at least a year.

What are the benefits of drug court?

Drug court has proven to be far more effective than incarceration. According to the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, drug court graduates are less than half as likely as released prisoners to have a re-arrest. Many also gain an education, child custody, employment and higher income. They become contributing members of society, an achievement most inmates do not reach.

Drug court also costs significantly less per participant, which means you have a greater chance of qualifying for it if it means the state will save money both now and in the future. Going to jail is not a guarantee just because you face alcohol or drug charges. Talk to your lawyer to find out if drug court may be an option for you so you can begin getting your life back on track.

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