Pa. Restores Drug Treatment Funding To Budget


Philadelphia’s Drug Treatment Court has been spared the state budget ax after legislators restored statewide treatment funding to the budget they passed Dec. 22. “Obviously, it was a great Christmas present and a good way to start the new year,” said Municipal Court President Judge Louis J. Presenza, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

William Rodriguez, 41, who conquered a heroin addiction through the program, said, “I think Drug Treatment Court is invaluable. Not only does it serve as a deterrent [to additional drug convictions with prison sentences], but they also pat you on the back when you do a good job. The positive affirmation is encouraging, and you won’t find that in prison.”

Prosecutors select nonviolent offenders with substance-abuse problems for the program. Defendants must plead guilty and enter court-ordered intensive treatment. If offenders stay arrest-free and drug-free for a year after the program, their convictions are expunged. Offenders who fail go to jail. Of those who successfully finish the program, 85 percent remain arrest-free, Presenza said. Said District Attorney Lynne Abraham: “Our drug court should be a model for the entire commonwealth.”

Last month, as legislators struggled with the state budget crisis, $104 million in statewide treatment funding was slashed. Lawmakers faced a $2.5 billion deficit caused by lower tax revenue during the recession, but $102 million in treatment funding was restored to the budget.


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