Lower Re-Offense Rates for Drug Court Program

, Posted: Tue, January 29 2013 at 6:22 PM, Updated: Wed, February 13 2013 at 11:08 AM

Desiree Mourning said she struggled with meth addiction for about 18 years in total.

"That's what my whole life was consumed with," began Mourning.

She said it took a toll on her family.

"I could see the hurt I was causing, but I really couldn't do anything about it....it will keep driving you and driving you until nothing else matters," she said.

It was what she described as a "chaotic" life. That is, until she recently graduated from drug court.

"I got to meet people, build up a support system...I never had that before," said Mourning.

Hers is one of many success stories...given the opportunity to go to drug court rather than jail or prison.

"They [offenders] go to jail or prison, they come back, they re-offend because they still have the addiction issue," said Josephine County Public Defender, Joe Maier.

He said the program admits people who have some sort of drug related offense, spanning possession to property crimes.

"[It's a] minimum of year treatment. It's intense outpatient treatment," he said.

That means five times a week, going to group meetings.

He said the treatment has a proven track record and those who attend drug court are less likely to re-offend.

The rate of people who re-offend after successfully graduating from the drug court program is almost 10%. That's compared to nearly 30% of state jail and prison inmates who re-offend within three years of release.

In addition, Maier said it's cheaper for tax payers.

According to state numbers, in Oregon, it costs roughly $30,000 to have someone behind bars for one year. However, for drug court...

"We're talking thousands, but it's few thousands and it's single digits thousands as opposed to double digit thousands," said Maier.

But to Desiree Mourning, who's now a full-time working mom, it's not about the money saved. It's about having her life back.

"I don't think I would have been able to do it without going through the drug court program," said Mourning.

Maier said even if someone fails out of drug court, goes to prison, and comes back, they're still statistically better off.           

Another benefit of successfully completing drug court? Charges can be dropped.

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