On the 25th anniversary of the first U.S. drug court, in Miami, West Huddleston of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals tells NPR that the nation’s 3,000 drug courts have treated 1.3 million drug-addicted offenders. Research says drug courts can cut crime by as much as half compared to any other sentencing option, he says, saving the criminal justice system about $2.21 for every dollar invested.
Huddleston acknowledges who types of drug court critics: “really hard-core law enforcement types that believe that we should just keep punishing addicts,” and others who contend that legalizing drugs would bypass the criminal justice system. Huddleston contends that the latter group is “not hinking through that argument very well. Drug courts are filled today – about 142,000 people a year who are there because of crimes related to their drug use, but not there because of a drug possession charge.” He argues that “legalization would unfortunately enhance or increase the number of those types of crimes.”