When will it end? –

June 28, 2020 – In establishing a solid defense for legal cases, take time to discuss the client’s history with drugs and alcohol. Attorneys can play an important role in ensuring their clients begin the journey of recovery, opposed to involvement in the criminal legal system.

This is especially important in communities of color that have faced legal consequences, while others have received the benefit of treatment. Many individuals of color enter the criminal legal system due to poor access to mental health and substance use disorder care in their community.

It is estimated that 75% of all incarcerated individuals have a mental or substance use disorder, whether it’s treated or untreated. Jails and prisons offer very limited treatment for these illnesses. Diversion to treatment provides the best outcomes but remains underutilized. One study found that if just 10% of people eligible for diversion were sent to addiction treatment programs rather than prison, we could save $4.8 billion in the criminal justice system while reducing future crime and health care expenses.

Your clients may wish to discuss attending residential or outpatient treatment to dismiss or reduce charges and minimize any legal punishment. Treatment can go a long way in presenting their case to the judge and prosecutor in the best light. The court may also be willing to accept inpatient treatment as an alternative to mandatory jail time.

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