While prison officials are hard-pressed to explain a recent spike in the prison population, one thing they do know is that without the 39 drug courts in Arkansas the number of inmates behind bars would be much higher, reports the Arkansas News Bureau. Since the number of drug courts were expanded in 2003, the program has become such a success that legislation is being developed for the 2009 session to add up to two more in eastern Arkansas and to add juvenile drug courts.
Nearly 1,000 people have graduated from the program, according to the Arkansas Department of Community Corrections, and about 1,600 are enrolled in programs across the state. That’s 2,600 diverted from the state’s chronically overcrowded prisons. The program also saves the state money, according to a recent legislative audit, which found it costs the state $9.96 a day for each participant, while the state spends $54.82 a day for inmates.