The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved an amendment sponsored by Congressman Stephen F. Lynch that would increase funding by $4 million for the Department of Justice's Drug Court Program. Lynch's amendment will now be included in H.R. 5326, the FY2013 funding bill for the Departments of Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies.
"Drug addiction affects every city and town in our country and reaches across every demographic. It shatters lives, breaks up families and, according to one report, costs over $600 billion annually. But drug courts have begun to make a real difference in Massachusetts by not only providing support, treatment and monitoring, but also reinforcing the grave consequences of recidivism by adopting a robust system that puts offenders in jail who refuse to get clean and who remain a threat to the public," Congressman Lynch said.
Drug courts are specifically geared toward offenders who are addicted to drugs or alcohol and have been charged with non-violent offenses, such as possession of a controlled substance. In these cases, the offender's substance abuse is determined to be the primary contributing factor to their criminal activity. Through a combination of treatment services, mandatory drug testing, supervision and, when necessary, imprisonment, drug courts aim to treat substance abuse and reduce recidivism rates. According to the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP), the drug court approach reduces crime by as much as 45% more than other sentencing options and, among drug court graduates, 75% are arrest-free at least two years after leaving the program. Furthermore, fewer arrests and less involvement with the criminal justice system produce savings of as much as $27 for every $1 invested in drug courts.
Congressman Lynch's amendment would increase drug court funding by $4 million, bringing funding for the National Drug Courts Program in line with its historic average. This $4 million increase would provide an additional 3,000 individuals with drug court treatment and supervision over a 3-year period.
"Drug courts save money, reduce crime, and restore families. With addiction reaching epidemic proportions in communities throughout our country, drug court funding is critical and necessary. I thank Chairman Frank Wolf and Ranking Member Chakah Fattah for their support for my amendment," Congressman Lynch added.
In the 112th Congress, Lynch also helped to re-establish the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse with Representative Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) and Representative Hal Rogers (R-KY). The caucus aims to raise awareness of prescription drug abuse and to work towards effective policy solutions, incorporating treatment, prevention, law enforcement, and research.