Drug Courts (2011)THE PROBLEM:
- Too many of our young men and women who are trapped by addictions are ending up in prison. In 2009 157,222 individuals were in our state prisons and 32% of them were African American. It is estimated that nationally 80% of those in our criminal justice system have drug or alcohol addictions.
- Our state is going broke spending millions of dollars on our prison system. In 2009 Florida spent two and half billion dollars on our prison system. It costs $18,980 per year to incarcerate just one person.
DRUG COURTS AS PART OF THE SOLUTON:
- Drug-courts are programs where those who have drug or alcohol addictions and commit non-violent offenses can be sent to local drug-treatment and be monitored by a judge, rather than go to prison.
- Those who go to drug court are 80% more likely not to commit a crime again than those who go to prison.
- It only costs $4,750 to send someone to drug court compared to almost $19,000/year to keep someone in prison.
- This does not begin to count the costs we save when we help people get off of drugs and they become productive members of society again and are able to be good parents to their children.
- In 2011, our state had $19 million from the federal government to expand drug courts in 8 counties in Florida as a pilot project to see if investing in drug courts can save the prison system money. (Those in pilot project: Broward, Escambia, Hillsborough, Marion, Orange, Pinellas, Polk, and Volusia.)
- It is estimated that with this $19 million, 4,000 people could be diverted from prison, saving the state $95 million.
- However targeted offenders are not able to make use of this program become the criteria are too restrictive. In other words, there is too much red-tape keeping this program from being effective.
- By November 2010, 2,000 inmates were supposed to have been served with over half the money spent. But in reality only 650 people had been admitted to the program, and only 14% of the money had been spent.
- If Florida didn’t spend the $19 Million on this program, we will lose the money.
1. Department of Corrections website, Fiscal year 2008-2009
2. Legislative Appropriations System/Planning and Budgeting Subsystem
4. 50% of those in the Pinellas drug court are women, most of them have children.
5. Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability Report No. 10-54, October 2010
- Working with 5 other organizations across the state of Florida, we got SB400 passed through both the house and the senate and signed into law by Governor Scott.
- SB400 changes several “red tape” problems with admitting candidates into the drug court. It is estimated that over a 2 year period of time the drug courts will serve 4,000 people and save the state of Florida $95 million.