Alternative court programs have been designed to help people who have addictions and mental health conditions overcome their disadvantages while being held responsible for their actions. Alternative programs are ideal for many situations, because they encourage healing instead of punishment without treatment.
Drug addiction and alcoholism are both significant causes of criminal acts. People are not in their right minds when they're on mind-altering substances such as these. Did you know that approximately 75 percent of people who began treatment for drug addiction previously committed acts of violence? These acts could include many types of crimes such as physical assault or mugging.
Why are alternative court programs so important?
Alternative court programs are vital to reducing crime rates and rates of recidivism. If someone commits a crime as a result of addiction, the obvious solution is to eliminate the addiction. This encourages the individual to learn better ways to handle their emotions and life situations, which means that they have a lesser chance of turning to crime.
Alternative programs are a cost-savings method as well. The cost of drug or alcohol abuse treatment is around $4,700 per person. However, the cost of incarceration is closer to $24,000. On top of that, those who receive treatment can often return to society and begin to give back through labor and other actions. This is much more beneficial than locking someone up in fear of them committing another crime.
What's so bad about incarceration?
Besides the fact that it is more costly, incarceration does not help individuals in any way. It prevents them from committing crimes, but it does not address the problem that led to their committing a crime in the first place. Many people who end up in prison have drug addiction or alcohol addiction problems. When they leave prison without treatment, they're more likely to return to those actions and to end up in trouble with the law again.
If a person is a first-time offender or has not committed a serious, violent crime, then an alternative drug program is a great idea. By helping them get the mental health support they need along with the treatment needed to eliminate an addiction, they're more likely to have the tools needed to return to a successful life in the future without the risk of committing another crime. This is clearly preferred over locking someone up and never addressing the potential for a secondary criminal act.