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Florida’s “problem-solving courts” offer an alternative to prison

On Behalf of | Jan 17, 2023 | Drug Charges |

It’s widely recognized that people with addiction and/or mental health issues often end up involved in criminal offenses. People sometimes steal to get money for drugs to support a habit or simply to support themselves when they’ve spent all their money on drugs. Those suffering from undiagnosed or untreated mental health issues are sometimes more prone to become violent toward others. Of course, they’re even more likely to become the victims of violence.

Increasingly, court systems are recognizing that putting someone in prison, even if they get treatment there, often isn’t as effective as allowing them to enroll in an outside treatment program. Both the individual and the community can benefit.

People often think these options are open only to those who have committed minor crimes, or misdemeanors. However, that’s not always the case. Let’s look at two examples.

Drug courts

Palm Beach County in one of the Florida counties with an adult drug court. It provides substance abuse treatment for a minimum of a year to those charged with non-violent, drug-related felonies. As long as someone doesn’t have any other pending cases and they’re not on probation or parole, they may be a candidate.

The participants are closely supervised by a team working for the Drug Court Judge, including random drug testing. Participants must participate in counseling. Once a person successfully completes the program, their drug-related charge(s) are dismissed.

Felony mental health courts

Broward County’s felony mental health court provides a range of services for people who are determined not to be competent to stand trial. Their services include providing both out-patient and residential treatment. Once a person is considered competent, the court provides help with things like finding housing and managing medications. In some cases, commitment to a mental health facility may be deemed necessary.

Each person’s treatment program is individualized. Mental health providers involve the person’s family members and the individual themselves in developing and working through the program.

If you have a loved one facing time behind bars due to an issue that requires treatment rather than punishment, it’s worth looking at the alternatives available. There are a lot more people who apply for these programs than the courts have the resources to oversee. However, by having legal guidance, you can better determine whether your loved one is a good candidate and, if so, making a strong case for them.

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