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Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C.
630-472-9700Available 24/7

Illinois Drug Courts: A Second Chance

Posted on in Drug Crimes

drugThere are three primary driving considerations behind criminal punishment in the United States: deterrence, retribution, and rehabilitation. Deterrence theories suggest that if people know about the punishments associated with crimes, they will not commit them. Deterrence can be either general or specific. Specific deterrence aims to discourage the individual criminal from committing future acts by providing them with a punishment for their actions, while general deterrence seeks to make an example out of the offender, thereby deterring others from similar conduct.

Retribution is the “you get what you deserve” type of mentality. This theory supports that punishment is a necessary evil when one commits a crime. The punishment, however, must be “proportionate” to the crime committed. This standard makes retributive justice difficult to implement because it is difficult to sentence offenders for similar crimes when every circumstance is unique. Regardless, the United States Sentencing Commission produces recommended sentencing guidelines based on the severity of the crime and the offender’s past criminal convictions, which can help judges determine what kind of sentence an offender should receive for his crimes.

Rehabilitation is arguably the most important theory of justice, but also the most difficult to implement in our justice system. Rehabilitation is the idea that instead of punishing offenders by having them sit in a jail cell, they should participate in programs that will better their lives, help them recover from previous hardships, and then be permitted to re-enter society as contributing and productive members. Rehabilitation is particularly important when you consider that it can cost anywhere from $14,000 to $60,000 per offender, per year to keep someone in prison in the United States. Rehabilitation not only offers a way to save taxpayers money in this regard, but certain rehabilitation programs may be the difference in saving an offender from a life of crime. It can also alleviate some prison overcrowding concerns.

Drug Courts Emphasize Rehabilitation

Illinois is just one of many states that has numerous drug treatment opportunities for non-violent or first-time offenders. Cook County, for example, developed a drug court that provides rehabilitative services for drug/alcohol addiction, and can result in a dismissal of charges after successfully getting through a probationary period. These opportunities are available only to those who committed a non-violent crime, admitted to being addicted to drugs, demonstrates a willingness to participate in a rehabilitation program, and has not been convicted of a violent crime in the past 10 years. These are very forgiving requirements; many states only allow these types of programs for juveniles or first-time offenders.

According to the Illinois Attorney General, criminal behavior is lower after an offender participates in a drug court program. Anything that can minimize the amount of people in prison while keeping the streets safe and simultaneously allowing people who make mistakes an opportunity to take responsibility and re-enter society is something worth pursing. The Illinois Drug Court programs are very liberally construed and provide many opportunities for one’s future if he or she abides by the terms of probation.

Drug Court and You

If you or anyone you know has been convicted of a drug crime, it is important that you understand your rights. You may be eligible to participate in one of Illinois’ many rehabilitation programs governed by the justice system. This may mean your charges can be dismissed or significantly lessened. Once you have been charged with a drug crime, it is critical to speak with an experienced DuPage County drug court attorney that can advise you of your options. The more time that passes, the less likely the prosecution may be willing to work with you to offer these types of programs, and if eligible, these programs can greatly improve your chances at returning to society without a record and with your health and wellness. Contact our criminal defense attorneys at Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C. serving the DuPage, Will, Kane, and Cook County areas at 630-472-9700 today.

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