Who’s Against Funding Successful Drug Treatment?By
In addition to slashing education funding, Tim Moffitt and the other folks who voted for the NC budget decided to do away with some successful programs that were helping a lot of people. NC Policy Watch reports on one example:
The 2011-2012 General Assembly made a host of troubling decisions in the last two years on everything from education to environmental policy.
But a few decisions were simply baffling regardless of your political philosophy, policy views, or partisan leanings. One of them was the legislative leaders’ insistence on ending all funding for the state’s drug treatment courts.
The courts are one of the state’s success stories. They provide a tough but effective treatment option for drug offenders which allows them to stay out of prison, stay with their families, and often pay restitution to their victims, all while turning their lives around.
It not only helps the offender, it saves the state big money. The program costs a few thousand dollars for each participant, roughly a tenth of the almost $30,000 year it costs to keep them behind bars.
Numerous studies show the program works. One found that 75 percent of the graduates of drug court were arrest free two years after finishing the program.
It is one of a handful of programs supported by both prosecutors and advocates for alternatives to incarceration. In fact, it’s hard to find anyone who thinks the drug courts are a bad idea.
But that didn’t stop budget writers in 2011 from ending state support for the operations of the program. Then lawmakers came back this summer and abolished state funding for the treatment services that the program provides.
Republicans and Democrats across the country support drug courts, so it’s not really a partisan issue. Republican Governor Chris Christie recently began requiring that nonviolent drug offenders enter treatment programs instead of prison, saying drug addiction is an illness that needs to be treated.
Drug offenders from now on are not likely to have that second chance because of the decisions made by state lawmakers in the last two years. And the state will spend $30,000 to keep the offenders locked up instead.
One more reason to vote for Jane Whilden – she supports fiscally responsible programs that reduce costs to our justice system and actually help the people in the district.