Florida is home to one of the largest court systems in the United States, with 67 different county courts, 20 circuit courts and five district courts of appeal. This state has been making significant efforts to change its criminal justice system for several years.
One of the most notable changes it has made concerns treating drug addiction. Instead of treating drug addicts as criminals, the court system advocates rehabilitation as a more effective solution. Courts have taken steps to mandate treatment programs as part of a sentence, providing access to counseling and support groups and connecting individuals with resources to help them to better manage their addiction.
How prevalent is drug addiction in Florida?
Statistics show that in 2021 alone, the rate per 100,000 deaths from drug poisoning in Florida was 36.7. In response to this crisis, Florida has been working to address drug addiction as a public health issue rather than a criminal issue. The court system recognizes incarceration as an ineffective solution for drug addiction. Therefore, it has shifted its focus toward rehabilitation.
One of the programs is the Florida Department of Corrections Substance Abuse Program (SAP). This program provides evidence-based treatment for inmates addicted to drugs or alcohol. Another initiative is the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) Substance Abuse Treatment Program. This program provides substance abuse treatment to juvenile offenders in a secure residential setting.
The impact of rehabilitation on recidivism
Research and implementation have shown that drug treatment programs significantly reduce recidivism (the tendency of a convicted criminal to re-offend) rates. Therefore, state and federal institutions are incorporating evidence-based rehabilitation strategies to address these core issues that often result in criminality.
In addition to rehabilitation, Florida has also implemented alternative sentencing programs designed specifically for addicts. For example, drug courts and diversion programs provide individuals with access to treatment and support services as an alternative to jail time. These programs are highly effective in helping individuals to better manage addiction.
Florida grapples with addiction and drug offenses’ impact on communities. Thankfully, there is a growing push to reform the court system to support rehabilitation efforts to a greater degree. Individuals facing criminal charges can seek legal guidance at any time to better understand their evolving options.