Is Drug Treatment a Viable Alternative to Prison Time? Essay

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Prisons and county jails are extremely over populated, so over populated that in some jails inmates are sleeping on the floors. According to Senator Jeanne Shaheen (From Senator Jeanne Shaheen: Prison Overcrowding, 2011), the federal prisons are currently 35 percent over their capacity. The overcrowding is costing the criminal justice system and taxpayers more money to transfer inmates to other facilities and in lawsuits brought by inmates against the prisons. With the prisons and county jails facing major overcrowding issues and drug treatment programs being a viable alternative to prison time, more states need to be implementing drug / treatment programs. Treatment / Drug Courts are specialized courts to help stop drug, alcohol, and…show more content…
Some experts believe that the Drug / Treatment Courts and diversion programs utilizing alternatives to prison time is the reason for the decline in prison population. According to Judge Vito P. Geroulo (Schillinger, 2010), the national decline might be a sign that other areas are starting to use treatment courts… However, according to Todd Berry, president of the Wisconsin Taxpayer Alliance (Hrodey, 2011), the reduction of prison population may be due to changing demographics in Wisconsin. The changing demographics might be playing a role in the decreasing prison population in Wisconsin; on the other hand, this is not the only factor playing a role in the decrease. The U.S. Department of Justice is reporting the local government prison population has declined 2.3 percent from June 2008 to June 2009 (Schillinger, 2010). Therefore, prison population is decreasing in the United States as a whole, not just in one state. In the United States today, there are many budget and funding cuts, utilizing Drug / Treatment Courts are a more cost effective way of sentencing, saving the criminal justice system and taxpayers money. The average daily cost of Drug court/Treatment Court is 72 percent to 80 percent less than other traditional sentencing options (Brogdon, 2010). Utlizing Drug / Treatment Courts can save the criminal

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