Drug courts successful for few who get in

By , November 30, 2009 10:01 am

In a five-year span, Candice Singer went from being a respected juvenile defense lawyer to a homeless meth addict who once broke into a house just to take a shower.

By the time she was arrested, Singer was charged with 24 separate burglaries and with cooking meth in her mother's house. She could have spent at least five years in prison, but her lawyer was able to steer her to a New Jersey drug court that kept her in treatment instead of behind bars.

“I credit drug court with saving my life,” Singer, 49, says. “If I had gone to prison, I would have continued to use drugs when I got out. I would probably be dead.”

It's been 20 years since the first drug court was established in Miami as an innovative way of getting nonviolent offenders out of the criminal justice system and into court-supervised drug rehabilitation programs. Since then more than 2,300 drug courts have blossomed around the country, credited with reducing crime and saving the cost of locking people up.

Despite that success, the specialized courts remain available to less than 10 percent of the 1.2 million drug-addicted offenders.

via Drug courts successful for few who get in – washingtonpost.com.

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