That's the title of this first article in a five-part series on Georgia drug courts from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It's a worthwhile, touching series of articles that details both the sad realities of drug addiction and the moving stories of recovery and redemption -- without prison.
People in court may get life in prison; people in drug court can get life, too — a life of liberty to lead as they choose. If they make it through the intense program, they know they can make it through almost anything.
Drug courts, part of a larger program known as “accountability courts,” are not universally accepted by the state’s judges and prosecutors. But they are central to a new approach to justice in Georgia.
The state’s typical response to crime — all sorts of crime, from stealing a few hundred dollars to nonviolent drug offenses to armed robbery and homicide — has been to lock people up. While effective in taking people off the streets, this approach has had two obvious consequences: The first is a $1 billion annual corrections budget that is growing by the year; the second is that minor criminals often leave prison to become major criminals, a greater danger to the community than when they went in.
The state now has 101 accountability courts, many of which require defendants to work, stay sober and get treatment, and Gov. Nathan Deal is proposing in this year’s budget to quintuple the funding for them to $10 million.Here's a summary of how the courts work in Georgia.
These innovative and cost-effective programs only save Georgians money, though, if prison sentences for drug offenses are not mandatory.