If you have a court date looming for a Tennessee drug charge, you may have concerns about the penalties you may face if convicted, and whether you will have to serve any time behind bars. You may also recognize that you may not have acted in a criminal manner in the first place if it were not for your drug addiction, as many drug addicts engage in such behavior in an effort to feed their addictions.
These days, American prisons are full of not only criminals who committed drug-related crimes, but also prisoners who have clinical drug addictions. In fact, according to the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, about 60 percent of arrestees test positive for drugs at the time of their arrest, and another almost 50 percent of today's prison inmates have clinical drug addictions. While prison does little to combat what is often the root of the problem - the drug addiction - an alternative known as drug court is becoming increasingly popular in many states, including Tennessee. This is likely due in part to the fact that drug courts strike a necessary balance between accountability and substance abuse treatment, giving offenders a chance to kick their habits for good.
How drug courts work
One of the first drug courts in Tennessee was established in Nashville in 1996. There are now about fifty such courts across the state. Though they are not yet available in all areas, drug courts typically give addicts a chance to avoid prison and get clean by combining regular appearances before a judge with regular drug testing. Typically, offenders must enroll in drug court for a set period of time, and if they are successful in completing the program, it can have a tremendous effect on their lives and their ability to abstain from drug use moving forward.
Drug courts have proven, positive effects
While statistics indicate that drug courts are good at keeping addicts in treatment long enough for them to get better, they also have many other proven, positive effects. They reduce crime, save taxpayers money, and help those with drug problems reunite with their children and families.
If you are facing a Tennessee drug charge, you may want to find out whether drug court could be an option for you. It just may give you the fresh start you need. A criminal defense attorney can review your situation and explain your options.