Rep. John Boozman of Arkansas, a staunch drug-court supporter, attributes the growing congressional support to better education about the benefits of drug courts and to concern about drug-related crime. "I'm a guy who watches the dollars, but in the long run I could argue that if we spend in this regard, it will save a lot more money down the line. That's a good deal for the taxpayers, society, and the families [of these offenders]," he says.
Experts say the current economy is a factor as well. The new funds, if passed, could be particularly appealing to states that are dealing with substantial prison overcrowding and those looking to close treatment funding gaps.
And, bit by bit, the public is becocoming more aware of drug courts, too. An anti-meth campaign launched by the Office of National Drug Control Policy last month featured a Missouri drug-court graduate named Josh. Even Texas, a state traditionally associated with being harsh on crime, has 78 drug courts, according to the NADCP.
"The state of our economy and the increasing rate of prison overcrowding have placed a heavy burden on our state and local prison systems," said Sen. Richard Shelby, the ranking minority member of Mikulski's committee. "Funding the drug court program offers these entities an effective alternative."
Drug courts address one side of the issue, the customer/addict. It's only a matter of time before we get the gumption to address the other sider, the seller/dealer. I suspect decriminalization of some drugs will come soon.