Presently, it's estimated that around half of the people who end up in Federal or State prison suffer from drug addiction. Many of these people do not receive the addiction counseling or treatment they need, which means that they're more likely to continue abusing drugs following release and are more likely to reoffend.
The good news is that more states are recognizing the importance of substance abuse treatment in reducing drug crimes. For people who struggle with drug abuse and addiction, they aren't always looking to cause trouble. Many find themselves wanting to quit with no clear path or help to do so. By using alternative drug courts and providing addiction services instead of incarceration, the belief is that more people can receive the treatment they need to reduce the likelihood of reoffending overall.
Why divert to drug treatment?
Most of the time, non-violent offenders are able to divert from the traditional route into substance abuse treatment and services. Treatment may become a stipulation for probation or a stipulation of having a charge lowered or dropped.
Virginia's drug treatment courts are an alternative to traditional court and treat cases differently. For example, the drug court team works together to come up with a way to reduce crime and to increase the likelihood of the defendant's sobriety. For example, your defense attorney, the prosecution and the judge may work together to decide on the best route to your sobriety and safety in the future. In a traditional court setting, the prosecution and defense are against each other, relying on the judge to make a final decision on the outcome of the case.
In a traditional court, punishment through incarceration, community service or other methods is seen as a way to stop people from offending a second time. The reality of a drug court is that treatment is viewed as a tool to help people regain helpful, positive lives where they are productive in society. The programs in a drug court are not meant to be punishment but, instead, a way to monitor and assist the defendant in recovering from severe drug addiction.
If you're struggling with drug addiction and are arrested, you may have the right to seek help through the alternative drug courts in Virginia. If you haven't been charged with a violent crime, you may have a better chance of getting help through this program than if you ended up in jail.