A courtroom is not a place where you expect to find scenes of celebration and tears of joy. Unless, of course, its drug court. This May, drug courts throughout the state of Wisconsin will join more than 3,000 such programs nationwide in celebrating National Drug Court Month. This year alone, more than 150,000 individuals nationwide who entered the justice system due to addiction will receive lifesaving treatment and the chance to repair their lives, reconnect with their families and find long term recovery. National Drug Court month is a celebration of the lives restored by drug court, and it sends a powerful message that these programs must be expanded to reach more people in need.
Nearly 30 years ago, the first drug court opened its doors with a simple premise: Rather than continue to allow individuals with long histories of addiction and crime to cycle through the justice system at great expense to the public; use the leverage of the court to keep them engaged in treatment long enough to be successful. Today drug courts and other treatment courts have proven that a combination of accountability and compassion saves lives while also saving valuable resources and reducing exorbitant criminal justice costs.
Drug courts significantly improve substance use disorder treatment outcomes, which substantially reduces addiction and related crimes, and does so at less expense than any other criminal justice strategy. Drug courts facilitate community-wide partnerships which bring together public safety and public health professionals.
Numerous studies have found that drug courts reduce crime and drug use and save money. Research shows drug courts also improve education, employment, housing, financial stability and family reunification, which reduces foster care placements. Drug courts represent a compassionate approach to the ravages of addiction. This year’s National Drug Court Month celebration should signal that the time has come to reap the economic and societal benefits of expanding this proven budget solution to all in need.
Drug Courts are criminal justice reform. These courts:
- Treat substance use disorders
- Treat mental health needs
- Deliver services for lifelong recovery
- Secure education, employment, and housing
- Produce tax-paying positive citizens
- Break the cycle of addiction in families
- Reduce re-arrests and re-incarceration
- Reduce substance use and overdoes
When one person rises out of substance use and crime, we all rise.
If you would like more information regarding the Burnett County Drug Court please contact Tessa Anderson, Drug Court Coordinator at 715-349-7600 ext. 1265.
Submitted by: Tessa Anderson, Drug Court Coordinator
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