The Sacramento Bee
October 16, 2010

Drug courts unfairly attacked

by West Huddleston, Chief Executive Officer, NADCP

Re "Fresh look at drug courts could also ease prison crisis" (Viewpoints, Nov. 9): In its latest attack on drug courts, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers reveals a startling comfort with distorting facts and ignoring the truth. In misrepresenting its recent anecdotal report as a "study," the NACDL chooses to ignore two decades of conclusive research, including hundreds of studies that prove drug courts reduce crime, reduce drug abuse, reunite families and save considerable money for taxpayers.

Here are the facts. Nationwide, 70 percent of the approximately 120,000 seriously addicted individuals who voluntarily enter drug courts with the assistance of their defense attorney complete it a year or more later and 75 percent of them remain arrest-free. A drug court participant is more than twice as likely to stay clean and remain arrest-free than is a newly released state inmate. Research also concludes that drug courts reduce drug abuse and improve employment and family functioning.

These effects are not short-lived. The longest study on drug courts to date shows these outcomes last as long as 14 years. Clearly, drug courts are not an experiment. They must be expanded to serve the 1.2 million substance-abusing arrestees before the courts. That is the real issue.

With every blind attack on drug courts, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers calls into question only its own credibility.

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