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Solving Prison Overcrowding with Drug Courts

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Solving Prison Overcrowding with Drug Courts

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  • March 2011
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Drug Courts
Elizabeth Johnson was a model student. She was characterized by her teachers as hardworking, driven, and goal oriented. After being placed on the honor roll and graduating early from Morris High School in Will County, Illinois, she attended Northern Illinois University to become a lawyer. Within her first year at college, her life derailed. She was caught by the police and arrested for possession of marijuana. Johnson was expecting to be placed in prison but she found herself in a drug court, which assigned her mandatory drug rehabilitation. After graduating from the rehabilitation program, she went back to school at John Marshall Law School, and passed the bar exam. Now, after seven years of completing the drug program, she has not relapsed and works as a District Attorney for Will County. However, stories like Johnson’s aren’t common. For every story like hers, there are hundreds of stories where the drug user would be sent to prison, shattering his or her future (Cain). Our prisons, now host thousands of non-violent drug users. These prisons have high upkeep costs, and have led to overcrowding in some states (United States, Department of Justice). The establishment of drug courts, throughout the nation, would result in less economic costs to America, while still rehabilitating drug users successfully.

Currently a large part of the Federal budget goes to the criminal justice system and more specifically in stopping drug abuse. In 2005, the government spent 135.8 billion dollars stopping substance abuse and addiction (Lyons). This money is spent on creating new rehabilitation programs and testing facilities for drug users to attend. However, drug users attend these programs on a voluntary basis. They are able to join and leave the programs at any time (Lyons). The Federal Government is spending billions on increasing rehabilitation facilities available, but is still sending drug users to prison. The courts still assign prison as sentences for...