Probation’s Drug Court Saves Lives and Money

​Drug abusers have resources to get clean and stay clean

​One of the key priorities is the rehabilitation of drug offenders for the Sacramento County Probation Department. Roughly 78 percent of people arrested and booked into jail last year tested positive for drugs, while less than one third of people with a drug or alcohol problem have received any type of counseling. The Department’s solution to combat this issue is the Sacramento Drug Court Program, which helps rehabilitate offenders and keep them out of prison.  

“Many people arrested for drug use are at a high risk for reoffending once they are out of custody,” said Lee Seale, Chief Probation Officer. “By actively engaging offenders in the Drug Court program, we are giving them the resources to get off drugs and teach them how to live healthy and productive lives. This keeps people out of jail and saves money.”

The Drug Court is a program focused on treating drug offenders rather than jail time.

How it Works:

People arrested on a non-violent drug related offense (or property related offense that has a nexus to drugs) and who plead guilty to their charges have the opportunity to enter the Drug Court Program.  If the offenders are successful in the one year program, their charges are dropped when they graduate.  If a participant does not comply with requirements of the treatment program plan, their admittance in the program is terminated, they are returned to custody and criminal proceedings are resumed.

The program is composed of three stages: Detoxification and stabilization, recovery, and finally, aftercare. The program takes about a year and includes treatment, training, education, random frequent drug testing and supervision. Once the training and testing are complete, a defendant must establish a consistent pattern of clean drug tests, employment or enrollment in a vocational/educational program and other proof of a stabilized lifestyle. At this point, the defendant can graduate from the program and all criminal charges can be dismissed.  

What the drug court program accomplishes:

Approximately $6,600 is saved in criminal justice costs for each person who participates in the Drug Court Program. Graduates of the program save thousands of dollars in prison costs because they don’t serve prison time. Even offenders who participate in the program, but do not necessarily graduate from it, serve one-third the prison time compared to those who did not participate in the Drug Court Program.  As a result, all participants save money whether they graduate from the program or not. 

The program also provides offenders with vital rehabilitation to ensure they do not reoffend and enter society with important tools for success.

One Drug Court Program participant, Dwight Armstrong, had used methamphetamine for more than 45 years. Armstrong embraced the Drug Court’s nutrition and yoga program that is provided by the Community Addiction Recovery Association and lost 40 pounds while in the program.  Since graduation, he regularly returns to Drug Court to speak with new participants about their struggles and encourage them to strive for graduation from the program like he did.

Why it is Successful:

“The drug court is successful because it is a proven strategy supported by research,” said Seale. “Drug courts reduce crime and reduce incarceration costs.”

The program led and embraced by the courts is also supported by the District Attorney’s Office, the Public Defender and the team at the Department of Probation.

Written by: Kaitlin Bane, Communication and Media Intern

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