BIDEN Resolution Designates May 2008 as National Drug Court Month
Today Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE) introduced a resolution designating May 2008 as "National Drug Court Month" to help increase awareness about the existence and effectiveness of drug courts and other diversion programs that offer alternatives to prison. The resolution (S. Res. 534) also urges local, state and federal officials to help expand and robustly fund these treatment programs throughout the country.
"There's no question that drug courts save lives," said Sen. Biden, author of the landmark 1994 Biden Crime Law, which created the drug court program. "These programs are some of the most cost-effective and proven approaches to breaking the cycle of drug addiction and crime that infect our communities. I hope that during National Drug Court Month we can all celebrate drug courts' important role in saving lives and communities."
Drug courts combine intensive supervision, drug testing and treatment for non-violent first offenders. Across the country, over 2,100 drug courts have helped hundreds of thousands of people confront their addictions to drugs or alcohol and choose a path toward a more productive life. Delaware's Drug Court Program began full operation in April 1994. These specialized courts, in Delaware and nationwide, place offenders in an environment where they undergo regular treatment and counseling, submit to frequent and random drug testing, make regular appearances before a judge and are monitored closely for program compliance.
A recent study by the Pew Center found that more than 2.3 million people are in prisons and jails across the United States; 1 in 100 adults in the United States are behind bars. Many of these inmates suffer from an addiction and committed their crime while high or to obtain money for a drug dependency problem. Incarceration costs burden state and local budgets, and drug courts can significantly reduce that burden while helping individuals get their lives on track.
With an ever-growing population of drug-addicted offenders in the justice system, drug courts play a critical role in national drug control strategy. A 2005 report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found drug court program participants were less likely to be rearrested or reconvicted than those who did not participate in drug court programs. The report also concluded that a conservative estimate of the net benefits to society of sending a non-violent offender through a drug court program ranges from about $1,000 per participant to about $15,000.