Costs Of Benton-Franklin Drug CourtPosted: Updated:
KENNEWICK, Wash - The Benton- Franklin Drug Court program is aimed at helping addicts charged with drug-related crimes get clean and sober and avoid jail time.
People can apply to be a part of the program, which lasts a minimum of one year.
There are four phases. It begins with weekly drug testing, 12-step meetings and Drug Court meetings.
If a drug test is positive or a meeting is missed, participants have to start over, or can be released from the program, said Judge Dennis Yule.
Yule meets with participants and presides over Drug Court graduations in the Adult, Juvenile and Family Drug Courts.
All three courts began with $500,000 grants to be spent over a three-year period. When that money was about to run out, Benton and Franklin County Commissioners stepped forward with money, said 8th District Washington Senator Jerome Delvin. Delvin also went to the legislature for temporary funding, but he said that isn't solid enough to support Drug Court long-term.
"To have go back to the budget every year or two years and ask for money, you are never guaranteed that money," Delvin said.
Delvin said voters approving a 3/10ths or 1/10th of a percent tax would be the best solution.
"I think it is a win-win for us taxpayers who have to pay that, it is just the alternative to throwing someone in jail," Delvin said.
For example, Judge Yule said maintaining someone for a year in prison can cost $30,000, and a year in Drug Court costs about $150,000 a year for the entire Adult Drug Court program for all of the participants.
Drug Courts show a $1.74 savings for every dollar spent, said Adult Drug Court Coordinator, Sheila Davidson.
Yule said Drug Court holds people accountable, rather than just giving them a time out, then setting them free, untreated and poised to re-offend.
"They would go to jail or prison with the underlying addiction not having been addressed at all and at least as bad or worse as they went in," Yule said.