The issue of drug treatment and law enforcement is complex. People who commit crimes should be held accountable, and yet only a small percentage of prisoners who meet clinical criteria for substance abuse disorder actually receive treatment for it. Drug courts are an innovative approach, offering alternatives to incarceration or lighter sentences to people who agree to complete a drug rehab program.
Here in Worcester County, we have 2 drug courts that are run out of Dudley District Court and Worcester District Court. There are currently a total of 27 adults and 3 juvenile drug courts being run in Massachusetts. These drug courts work closely with recovery programs like AdCare and Spectrum as well as halfway houses and recoveryo homes in the area. Instead of incarcerating someone, the idea is to provide clinical assessments, get the person into a treatment program, and provide case management and outreach services. The person is also subjected to checking in with their parole officer as well as random drug testing. By being held accountable and also receiving the help they would not get while in jail, the individual is more likely to stay drug-free for a longer period of time.
Grateful for Second Chances, Families Celebrate Graduations
On February 8, 2018, Worcester Drug Court celebrated its first graduation. With 4 successful graduates, Judge Michael G. Allard-Madaus gave out “Miltie” medallions, named after Judge Milton H. Raphaelson, who started the first Drug Court in Worcester. Judge Raphaelson was a staunch advocate for treatment programs like the one he once ran in Dudley District Court and a firm believer that many of the criminal cases that come before the courts are rooted in substance abuse. Judge Raphaelson passed away at the age of 83 on February 9, 2014. But those who have gone through his courtroom, never forgot the chances that he gave or the lives that he most likely saved, because he believed in each and everyone one of the men and women going through his program.
“In an interview before the graduation, Judge Allard-Madaus said the recovery court uses a team approach that includes representatives of law enforcement, the Probation Department, the defense bar, the offices of District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. and Sheriff Lewis G. Evangelidis, a clinician and area treatment programs. He described the court as intensive, treatment-oriented probation and said it establishes individualized treatment programs for each participant, the vast majority of whom are heroin addicts who were facing a violation of probation and possible jail sentence when they were offered an opportunity to take part.” (Murray, 2018)
How Successful are Drug Courts in Helping People?
Nationwide, 75% of Drug Court graduates remain arrest-free for at least 2 years after leaving the program. Because of this, there is also a reduction in crime that in some cases, spanned over 14 years. This was 45% more crime reduction than other sentencing options in the court system. Drug Courts also save the taxpayers money. For example: for every $1 put into drug courts, we save as much as $3.36 in avoided criminal justice costs, in other words, paying for someone to sit in jail. Drug courts produce cost savings ranging from $3,000 to $13,000 per client! Because of the closer supervision, drug courts are also 6 times more likely to keep offenders in treatment long enough for them to get better and to stay sober longer. With that being said, Vanderburgh House would like to say congratulations to all of the graduates of the Worcester and Dudley Drug Court and we wish everyone great success in their recovery.Bibliography
Murray, G. V. (2018, February 9). Telegram and Gazette. Retrieved from Telegram.com: http://www.telegram.com/news/20180208/worcester-drug-court-grads-grateful-for-second-chance?start=2