Court-Ordered Drug Rehab Instead Of Jail Gets A Boost From Utah Bikers

Published: 17th August 2007
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Drug courts are a recent innovation in the country. They're designed to help stop the abuse of alcohol and drugs and related criminal activity by ordering offenders into drug treatment programs instead of serving jail time. In exchange for completing the programs successfully, courts can dismiss the original charge, reduce or set aside sentences, offer some lesser penalty, or a combination of these. To date, many thousands of offenders who would have gone to jail with their drug addictions and later been released with their addictions still intact, have instead reformed their lives and become clean and sober through court-ordered drug rehab programs.

Sometimes, however, new offenders have trouble paying certain fees, getting housing and affording other expenses connected with the drug rehab programs. So not every offender who qualifies for court-ordered drug rehab can afford to do it. These are life-changing, life-saving opportunities that should not be lost because of money - and often not very much money.

Well, a novel solution - at least we haven't heard of it before - has popped up in Salt Lake City, Utah. To support the drug court concept and raise some money to help offenders get into drug rehab, a group of successful drug court graduates have decided to climb on their motorcycles and take their message of drug court recovery on the road in the first annual "Ride for Recovery" through the city.

The event is being coordinated by long-time biker Ken Rosenbaum, who told the Salt Lake Tribune that he began riding his motorcycle over 35 years ago, but never imagined using his favorite pastime to help others. He landed in drug court because of his crimes, he said, and "it saved my life."

Drug courts were created to handle cases involving drug-addicted offenders through extensive supervision and treatment programs. According to the White House Office of Drug Control Policy, as of April 2007, there were 1,699 drug courts operating in the U.S., and 349 more were in the planning phases. Currently, 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam, two Federal Districts and 121 tribal programs have drug courts that are in operation or are being planned.

Participants in the drug rehab programs agree to long-term, court supervised treatment and counseling, they have to appear before a judge every week, and drug testing is performed regularly to make sure they're staying clean and sober. Drug court judges can impose sanctions or offer incentives, and, as we said earlier, successful completion of the drug rehab program can mean dismissal of criminal charges, reduced or set-aside sentences, or reduced probation time.

Utah has 32 drug courts statewide offering drug-abusing nonviolent offenders this opportunity. More than 400 adult offenders participate in the Salt Lake County drug courts, and 84 percent have zero arrests while in the program.

"Incarceration is not a cure for addiction," Rosenbaum said. "These drug courts are designed to make people responsible for their own actions."

Raising money for addicts who want to change their lives but need financial help to complete their drug rehab is a fantastic idea for civic-minded local activists who want to clean up their towns and cities, not just temporarily through the prison system, but permanently. The only way to do it is to stop drug-related crime - which is most of the crime we hear about - by putting offenders with drug addiction and abuse problems through a successful drug rehab program.

successful drug rehab program

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