Law enforcement officers say that close to 90 percent of the crime that occurs in our communities can be traced to substance abuse. North Carolina’s Drug Treatment Courts help address the problem by giving drug-addicted, nonviolent criminals an opportunity to enter a court-supervised drug treatment program instead of going to jail or prison.
The cost of someone going through DTC is a small fraction of the average $28,000 a year it costs to put someone in prison. Drug treatment courts also save the state money in Medicaid, healthcare and other human service costs by breaking the cycle of addiction and turning repeat offenders into productive tax-paying citizens.
But in 2011, the General Assembly cut state funding for the program, eliminating 33 DTC coordinators and managers. The cuts closed down five DTCs and limited the operation of others. As other states expand DTCs because they save money and lives while reducing crime and recidivism, many question why North Carolina would do the opposite.
“Justice and Redemption” is a half-hour documentary that looks at how drug addiction fuels crime and increases criminal justice costs and examines how DTCs address those problems. It goes inside the DTC program to tell the stories of offenders and reveal the work of the DTC staff members trying to help them. It questions policymakers about the funding cuts to the DTC program and its future in our state.
“Justice and Redemption” is narrated by WRAL News anchor Gerald Owens and aired Tuesday, Oct. 9 at 7 p.m.