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Right on Crime | February 7, 2012
Reformers often laud programs that treat drug and alcohol addictions because addiction is frequently the root cause of criminal behavior. Consider Tony Gallardo. He is a 40-year-old Nevada resident. He has been repeatedly incarcerated since 1989, and he is a hard-core drug addict. Nevada has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars locking him up for month-long stints in county and state facilities over the last two decades.
Today, however, he is sober. He has not touched drugs or been arrested in two years. He has a job and his own place to live for the first time in a decade.
One February day, two years ago, a judge in Henderson County, Nevada, offered Tony a choice: jail time or treatment. He chose treatment through the Henderson Municipal Court’s Assistance of Breaking the Cycle program, or ABC Court.
This program, which partners with local nonprofits, costs less than $6 per day–a fraction of the $44 average cost per day of lockups in Nevada.
Graduates of the program, like Tony, as well as 16 others who have successfully beat their addictions, are no longer living off taxpayer dollars in state or county correctional facilities. They are holding down jobs, keeping homes, and becoming productive, law-abiding citizens.
Not everyone has the will to get treatment like Tony, but states have an interest in ensuring that everyone at least has the opportunity. Tony’s example demonstrates why less costly addiction treatments are an integral component of efficient and effective criminal justice systems.