Many people who face drug charges are simply going to be sentenced to a term in prison and a heavy fine. Some believe that this is a deterrent, preventing drug crimes from happening. They also think prison time can reform criminals so they will not re-offend.
But the opposite is usually true. Prison is not much of a deterrent because people assume they will not get caught. It also does not reform them in any sense because the drug charges may only have happened due to addiction. The person who gets out of jail is still addicted to drugs and may re-offend quickly.
How drug courts are different
To help solve this problem, many states will use a drug court program. Rather than being sentenced on criminal charges, the individual is allowed to go through a treatment program. If they can complete this treatment program and pass drug tests, showing that they are working to overcome the addiction, they are then allowed to avoid the felony charges entirely.
The hope here is that treating the root cause of the problem, which is addiction, will keep people from re-offending. At the same time, the drug court program keeps them from having a criminal record for the rest of their life. This can help prevent crimes committed to get money, such as drug sales.
Not everyone is eligible for the drug court program, which is usually only open to non-violent offenders. Still, you can see why it is essential for those facing criminal charges to consider all of their options.