Researchers understand that incarceration serves well as punishment and keeps offenders from harming the public, but jail or prison time rarely functions as rehabilitation. In fact, people who have spent time in jail due to drug or alcohol use are more likely to commit crimes, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. 

To lower the risk that people will re-offend, the Mississippi justice system has instituted intervention courts. 

How intervention courts work

Participants must agree to a contract that requires them to go to treatment. Close supervision, random and scheduled drug tests and therapy help participants to overcome their addictions. Completion of the program results in dropped charges, lesser penalties or reduced sentences, depending on the agreement between the judge, prosecution and defendant. 

According to the National Institute of Justice, drug court participants test negative for drugs more often than people who receive probation instead. The percentage of participants who commit further offenses is also lower. 

How people become participants

The district has programs for both adults and juveniles who do not have a significant criminal record. Upon indictment, a defendant may seek to enter the program. 

Only nonviolent offenders may participate. Allowing them to remain in the community must not put people’s safety at risk. A person is likely to receive acceptance to the program if the court determines the following: 

  • The program serves justice 
  • The program meets the needs of the defendant 
  • The chances of rehabilitation are high 
  • The risk of re-offending is low 

People who face drug charges involving the sale of or the intent to sell controlled substances are not eligible. 

How the programs benefit the community

Incarceration is expensive and puts a strain on law enforcement and court system resources. Diversion courts sidestep these costs as well as the expenses related to re-arrest. When there is less crime in the community, everyone wins. 

Participants who complete the program avoid many of the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction and receive a fresh start on a life free of addiction. 

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