Martin and Faribault counties, along with others in the region, have been participating in several forms of drug court, which seeks to help people struggling with addictions and whose crimes can be linked to these problems. Drug court includes versions for adults, families and veterans. The Sentinel examined the veterans drug court in an article earlier this week.
Those participating commit to a stringent program that holds them accountable. They must test negative for drug use, complete treatment and be involved in the program for an extended period of time, to prove they are staying sober. In return, they avoid the usual criminal justice path, which may include jail.
We have been supporters of drug court, because there have been numerous success stories of people turning their lives around, and of families being preserved and strengthened. We understand there can be skepticism about diversion programs, in that citizens may worry that criminal offenders are not facing the appropriate punishment. But people deeply involved with drugs and alcohol are fundamentally not "themselves." Their chemical dependency and accompanying mental health issues are driving their actions. They require help. Yes, that could be administered in jail or prison, but these local drug courts have offered another route.
Is that route always successful? No. And we would agree that a long-term examination of drug courts should be done to see if the results and costs are better overall than alternative ideas. For now, drug courts should keep moving forward, adapting as needed. We hope their success becomes overwhelming.