Millions of people are arrested for drug and alcohol related crimes every year. With more than 24.5 million people in the United States addicted to a substance, these numbers are also likely to rise over time. If you’ve been arrested for a drug or alcohol related crime, you are not alone.
However, you likely also know that jailtime for drug and alcohol related offenses doesn’t work. Data shows that 75% of offenders who spend time in jail simply re-commit the same crimes when leaving. At the same time, approximately 50% of all prison inmates meet criteria for substance dependence, but less than 10% receive treatment. Many of these people leave prison and go right back to using.
This large disparity is often the result of overwhelmed courtrooms, where drug offenses are treated severely. However, courtrooms are increasingly taking a more proactive approach, offering treatment and rehab instead of jail as an option, and sending obviously substance addicted persons to specialty courts to receive alternative sentencing.
If you’ve been arrested for a drug or alcohol related offense, you can take advantage of these approaches to seek out treatment instead of spending time in jail.
Why Rehab Instead of Jail?
Studies show that there are numerous benefits to sending someone to rehabilitation to get treatment rather than to prison, where many are often able to continue their addictions. For example, studies show that if even 10% of all persons convicted of drug and alcohol related charges were to be sent to rehab instead of to jail, the United States would save $4.8 billion per year. If that were to raise to 40%, the U.S. would save $12.9 billion.
Other data shows that rehab is more effective at creating change. The Justice Research and Statistics Association shows that 75% of people who go to prison are re-arrested versus 57% for those who received treatment, 65% of inmates were re-convicted of a crime versus 42% who received treatment, and 51% of inmates received a new jail sentence within a 12-month period, versus just 30% of those who went to rehab instead.
The U.S. Department of Justice also directly correlates substance abuse with committing crimes, with data showing that a person who is heavily addicted to an opioid is likely to commit an average of 63 crimes per year.
In short, sending people to rehab instead of to prison is socially and fiscally beneficial, because it reduces the load on prisons, helps to prevent people from going right back to prisons, reduces costs, and helps to improve people’s lives because they actually get better.
How Do I Get Rehab Instead of Prison Sentencing?
There are two ways you can end up with rehab instead of jail sentencing – court ordered rehab and drug court.
Court Ordered Rehab
If you are a multiple offender, have several DUI’s, or otherwise have a proven track record of committing substance related crimes, your judge may recommend you to a rehabilitation program instead of to prison. In most cases, you will be given a dual option of either rehab or jail, so you can choose which you want to do.
You can also encourage this process by consulting with your lawyer and asking them to recommend you to court ordered rehab. Your lawyer can help you to determine if you qualify (for example, if you have a history of drug or alcohol use), and can then recommend the option to the judge as a solution over jail. Importantly, this is only a solution in non-violent crimes.
Here, you will go through a process where you are assigned a case worker who will spend time with you to determine your actual drug and alcohol use and how much it was responsible for your crime. If the case worker agrees, you will be sentenced to rehab, possibly followed by or including a stint in AA.
Drug Courts are special courts designed to handle non-violent substance related crimes and criminal cases. There are currently over 2,400 drug courts operating in the United States, with options available in every state.
A drug court only works with persons who need drug or alcohol dependence treatment. These courts determine if you qualify for the court through supervision and mandatory drug and alcohol testing – and then assign treatment based incarceration rather than imprisonment. However, the process is significantly different than that of a regular court.
- You must waive due process rights and sign a pre-emptive confession before qualifying
- You must commit to attending treatment and rehabilitation
- You must commit to mandatory drug and alcohol testing
- You must consent to being monitored to ensure the effectiveness of the program
- You must attend rehabilitation at a treatment facility chosen by or operated by the drug court
Drug courts have pros and cons. They can be beneficial because they ensure that you receive treatment and get the help you need to get better. Drug courts help you get the treatment you need and ensure that you do not spend time in jail. However, they do require confessing and pleading guilty to your crime, which can impact you in other ways, especially if a traditional court might find you innocent of the charge.
However, drug courts have a very high success rate, with an average recidivism (reconviction) rate of 4-29%, or an arrest rate of about 16% in the first year after treatment.
Drug courts are especially beneficial to minors, juvenile offenders, parents with drug and alcohol problems, and persons with a non-violent history of substance abuse.
Do I Qualify for Rehab Instead of Jail?
While many people qualify for drug rehab instead of incarceration, you should check to ensure that you do or discuss your options with your lawyer. For example, if you aren’t physically dependent on a substance, don’t answer case worker questions to where they determine that you have a problem, or otherwise don’t appear to have a problem that rehab will correct, you will not be considered.
If you have a history of violent crime, you may also be recommended for incarceration rather than rehabilitation. Even if your current situation is not a violent crime.
Getting Treatment Instead of Incarceration
If you’ve been arrested for a non-violent crime, it should be relatively easy for you to seek out treatment instead of prison. In most cases, a judge will automatically recommend you to AA or to rehab if you have more than one substance related crime. If this is your first offense, you may have to ask your lawyer for the recommendation to be considered.
Rehabilitation treatment for substance abuse can give you the tools to get your life back on track. Many programs will include licensed therapists, evidence based treatment techniques such as cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), and extensive follow-up to help you remain in recovery after leaving a program.
If your goal is to get clean or sober, requesting rehab as an alternative to jail can be an excellent choice for you, because you will get the support and accountability you need to go through detox, learn the skills required to stay clean or sober, and to recover from your addiction.
Beginnings Treatment Centers offers addiction treatment programs to help you stay clean and sober. Call us today and speak with one of our experienced and professional intake advisors. We are located in beautiful and sunny Southern California in Orange County, which has one of the strongest and most active recovery communities in the United States.