A drug treatment program that supporters say has saved the state millions and helped turn around the lives of thousands of addicted North Carolinians is slated to be eliminated because of budget cuts, the Charlotte Observer reports. Faced with one of the worst budget gaps in state history, legislators have proposed slashing the $2 million in funding for N.C. Drug Treatment Courts, a yearlong program that keeps nonviolent drug offenders out of prison and in treatment.
The consequences – financially and socially – could be dire. “It’s a no-brainer,” Mecklenburg County Trial Administrator Todd Nuccio said. “You can pay $25,000 to $30,000 a year to house someone in a jail cell, or pay $2,500 to $3,000 to run them through this program. [ ] Unfortunately to folks who do not know much about these programs, it’s just a number on a piece of paper. So it’s shortsightedness.” The court system gets 2.5 percent of the overall state budget. The elimination of the 16-year-old drug program is part of $39.4 million in planned cuts to courts.