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Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Cost of Drugs

Anyone who has faced addiction understands the control it takes over your life. Anyone who watched their friend or family member spiral out of control realizes they have little, if any, control over the addict. My perspective on addiction changed dramatically when I become involved in the drug and DWI courts as a prosecutor in California. The process was very collaborative and similar to how juvenile courts operate  in Mecklenburg County. The prosecutor, defense attorney, judge and the counseling staff would meet and discuss the participants on a weekly basis. It is very unusual for a prosecutor to have access to just about every detail of a defendant's life. I witnessed how drug or alcohol controlled the person's life. Simple things like getting to an appointment on time were challenging. For the majority of people, the program worked.

Mecklenburg County drug court is facing a budget cut. The program is on the chopping block. As of Friday, Mecklenburg County commissioners were trying to find a solution that would prevent this. Statistics show drug courts work.  For those who like numbers- the cost of drug court is less than incarceration and the recidivism rate for drug court graduates is substantially lower. This is not a program that we can afford to loose.

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