Since 1991, many people in California have participated in special programs through the court system after being arrested for suspected drug offenses. Called drug courts, these programs aim to provide assistance to a person’s underlying substance abuse or addiction problem as an alternative to the direct punitive approach in response to a criminal action.
Multiple approaches to California drug courts
As explained by the California Department of Health Care Services, a person may enter a drug court at various points after a criminal arrest. Some people may be granted access to a drug court after they have been convicted for a drug crime. Instead of serving time in prison or jail, they participate in a court-monitored treatment program. Another option is for a person to enter a guilty plea to an offense and then enter the drug court program. Upon successful completion of the program, their case is then dismissed.
A third option for drug court participation is to enter the program before entering a plea. Assuming they complete all aspects of the program properly, their case is dismissed, and no criminal record remains for them.
Providing help for people who need it
Advanced Recovery Systems indicates that since the first U.S. drug court was established in Florida in 1989, many people have benefitted from the ability to turn their lives around by gaining access to treatment that would otherwise be unavailable to them. Those who benefit most from drug courts have underlying substance abuse or addiction problems, often resulting from prescription use that develops into addiction. Many court programs address addiction to both drugs and alcohol.