No one likes to think of the community in which they live as facing a drug problem. But with the number of crimes committed in Taylor County that are reported in the News-Journal, the problem is a little difficult to ignore.
And, after a few years, one begins to recognize the names that appear more frequently than others in court records.
Defendants are traditionally given several chances to get their lives back on track. Judges typically try diversion and probation before prison time.
But some people apparently won't learn without some additional prompting or help.
That's what we hope a new program for drug offenders will provide.
As a story on today's front page explains, Taylor County has begun a new Drug Court program. According to the Administrative Office of the Courts, Drug Court is designed for people who have committed nonviolent crimes to support their drug habits.
Putting these people in prison isn't doing anybody any good. It takes them out of society and away from their families, which means they're not being productive members of the community.
And that hurts all of us. As taxpayers, our dollars pay for their stay in prison.
But, according to the AOC, for every $1 spent on Drug Court graduates the state saves $2.72 on what it would have spent on prison.
However, Drug Court's apparently not going to be a walk in the park.
Participants must agree to undergo random drug testing, attend classes and court sessions, hold a job or get training or education, make payments for court obligations, attend a weekly meeting with drug court staff, have an understanding of substance abuse treatment, enroll and attend a self-help program and maintain a drug-free life. They also have to come face to face with the judge and program coordinators twice each month.
It's not going to be easy, that's for sure.
But successful treatment will always be better than imprisonment ... for everyone involved.
As taxpayers we can support the savings in public money. As humans we can appreciate that people are being given another opportunity to succeed without drugs.