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Oklahoma drug courts give offenders a second chance

In 1995, the first adult drug court program was started in Oklahoma. Since then, 73 counties in the state have started similar programs. Only four counties do not have drug court programs available.

Drug courts offer offenders a chance to participate in a court-supervised drug treatment program that is highly-structured. The alternative to this program is incarceration. Not everyone who is facing drug charges in Oklahoma is eligible for the program, though. Only non-violent felony offenders who meet other criteria are eligible to participate in these programs.

In addition to helping offenders get the treatment they need, drug courts are also a good investment for the state. It costs the Oklahoma Department of Corrections an average of $19,000 a year to incarcerate someone. Drug court costs about $5,000 a year.

In terms of recidivism, drugs courts are effective at keeping graduates from re-offending. The re-arrest rate for drug court graduates is 23.5 percent, whereas re-arrest rates for released inmates is 54.3 percent and 38.2 percent for those who complete regular probation.

Because adult drug courts have been successful, additional diversion programs have been developed, such as veteran's courts, mental health courts and juvenile drug courts.

Those who are placed in a drug court treatment program will be subject to random, frequent drug testing. Some restrictions may also apply, such as home curfews, electronic monitoring, association and travel restrictions.

If you are facing drug charges, your attorney can provide more information on drug court, including eligibility, fees and length. However, the decision to apply for an Oklahoma drug court program is ultimately up to you.

Source: Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, "Adult Drug Court," accessed Dec. 29, 2017

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