Martin Sheen who played President Bartlet on “The West Wing” lobbied congress this week to support drug court programs. Drug Courts are programs designed to keep non-violent drug offenders out of jail. If someone is charged with being under the influence of a controlled substance or narcotics or possession of a controlled substance or narcotics they can participate in a couple of different programs. Individuals charged with sales of narcotics are not eligible for drug court.

In California there is diversion program for first time drug offenders. If someone is charged with being under the influence or possession they can participate in a 6 month drug class. They then have to stay out of trouble for an additional 12 months and their case will be dismissed. Drug Court is a more complex version of this designed individuals who have aleady gone through a diversion program.

Drug court is designed help drug addicts overcome their addiction and give them tools to stay clean rather than sending them to jail or prison. Our jails and prisons are already far too overcrowded. Drug addicts do not need punishment, they need rehabilitation. Drug court provides that opportunity. Drug court is an intensive program which involves mental health services, supervision by probation, drug testing, group and individual counseling and frequent court appearances. This program can last for up to several years depending on the individual. If a drug court participant uses and has a “dirty” or positive drug test, they are sanctioned and might spend a few days in jail. They are then released and placed back in the program.

Many individuals have successfully completed drug court and they have gone on to lead productive lives. Many have gone on to assist others in their rehabilitation. Sending an addict to jail does not serve anyone. The addict is released from custody and continues to use drugs. The community suffers. If we can rehabilitate drug addicts through drug court programs society will benefit. There will be less crime, less violence, less overcrowding in prisons and more contributing members of society. How can we lose?

If you or a loved one are charged with drug or narcotics offenses you should always be represented by an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact the Law Office of Diane C. Bass at (949) 494-7011.