Laura Morrow is about to give birth to her first drug-free baby out of nine. Without the Drug Court in Tennessee’s Rutherford County, she says she would “either be dead or in prison.” Morrow, 38, was among the 12 who made up the drug court program’s largest graduating class to date last week, the Tennessean newspaper in Nashville says.
Since the drug court began three years ago, ninety-nine people have been accepted into the program, which puts people convicted of nonviolent crimes because of drug abuse into an intensive treatment program rather than jail. Including last week’s graduates, 36 have completed the program so far.
The program was started under a three-year U.S. Department of Justice grant. In addition, it costs about $20,000 less per year to put someone through the program than it does to keep them in jail. Proponents say that quickly adds up to millions of dollars in savings.
Te Justice grant expires in August, but the state’s new Drug Court Treatment Act give counties $75 from every drug conviction to pay for drug courts statewide. Money from counties that don’t have drug court programs will go into a fund that can give grants to existing programs.