For many years, courts punished convicted drug offenders with fines and/or jail time. But then some states began experimenting with their own “drug courts” that addressed some nonviolent drug crimes in different ways. Incarceration rates began to drop.
These court systems are different because they were designed to reduce the prison population and to give people an alternative to going to jail. Instead, an individual would be entered into a treatment and monitoring program. If they are able to complete this program, then they could be released without having to spend time behind bars and without a criminal record.
Georgia does have a system like this. The state calls it the Georgia Accountability Court Program, and it was set up in 2012. This is not an option for everyone, but it can be very useful for those who qualify.
Offenses must be non-violent
One of the most critical parts of the program is that qualifying crimes can’t be violent offenses. If firearms were involved in any way, for instance, a drug court will not be used. It is generally just applied to those who are facing their first charge for something like simple drug possession.
One of the reasons that these court programs are used is simply that many drug crimes are tied to addiction. Someone may only have possessed illegal drugs because they are addicted to those substances. Even if they wanted to stop taking them, without medical assistance, they would not be able to successfully manage their addiction. Putting someone behind bars for such a drug offense also doesn’t address this addiction and could lead to them reoffending when they get out. But if they go through the treatment program, the hope is that they will ideally be able to successfully manage their addiction, lowering re-offense rates.
Is it an option for you?
Are you facing charges? Do you think that the court system described above may be an option that you want to consider? Seeking legal guidance to assess your options is a good place to start.