Larsen Urges Congress to Restore $40 Million for Drug Courts to Fight Meth and Prevent Crime

Jun 14, 2007


Washington, D.C. - U.S. Representative Rick Larsen (WA-02) joined U.S. Representatives Patrick Kennedy (RI-01) and Jim Ramstad (MN-03), actor and drug treatment advocate Martin Sheen, former national drug czar General Barry McCaffrey, Snohomish County Superior Court Judge George Bowden and leaders of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) for a press conference today urging Congress to restore $40 million in funding for the successful Drug Courts Discretionary Grant Program that was zeroed out in the Bush Administration's proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2008.

"Drug courts work," said Larsen, co-chair of the House Methamphetamine Caucus. "I urge my colleagues to restore funding for drug courts and invest in a strategy that works for our communities."

Drug courts are widely recognized as the most effective solution for reducing crime and recidivism among drug-addicted offenders in the criminal justice system at a fraction of the cost of standard incarceration.  Drug courts cost less than $5,000 for one year of treatment with low recidivism compared to $25,000 to $45,000 to incarcerate an addict who typically is rearrested within 90 days. In Washington state, Snohomish County's drug court has a 94 percent success rate. Of the 257 people have graduated from Snohomish County's drug court to date, only 17 individuals have been arrested for committing new crimes.

Drug courts have also been recognized as an effective weapon against the methamphetamine epidemic.  In June 2005, the Justice Department released a report confirming that drug courts are a critical part of our nation's strategy on methamphetamine.

"Meth is a powerful drug, and meth addiction can be powerful to beat," Larsen continued. "But when drug courts intervene, crimes are prevented, families reunited, addictions overcome, and lives saved."

A drug court blends the oversight of a court with the therapeutic capabilities of drug treatment.  The program includes comprehensive supervision, drug testing, treatment services and immediate sanctions and incentives.  Drug court programs bring the full weight of all interveners (judges, prosecutors, defense counsel, substance abuse treatment specialists, probation officers, law enforcement and correctional personnel, educational and vocational experts, mental health workers and many others) to bear, forcing the offender to deal with his or her substance abuse problem.

"We know that drug courts cut crime, save money, restore communities and heal families," said Jennifer Columbel, Public Policy Director of NADCP.  "We also know that a $40 million federal budget this year will help us expand our reach of these lifesaving programs."

On Monday, NADCP scored a preliminary victory in what is likely to be a long road toward this goal when the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science marked up the DOJ funding bill and allocated $40 million for the Drug Court Discretionary Grant Program.

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