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Missouri's ranking judge lauds drug courts' effectiveness

There's a decided irony concerning drug courts in Missouri presently.

And that is this, as noted in a recent media report: Although the courts are flatly confirmed to be "the most cost-effective way to combat the opioid crisis," they have been operating on a proverbial shoestring of late owing to state budget cuts.

The result is that the tool that is optimally effective and cheap in helping addicts has been materially withdrawn from use. Ultimately, Missouri might well be saving more money by jacking up the drug court budget rather than by siphoning from it.

To state that the courts have strong and broad-based support would be an understatement. Gov. Eric Greitens has already restored the cuts made in 2017 in his proposed budget for 2019. Additionally, the state's chief executive is seeking a $1.75 million increase over that, with an aide saying that full operational capacity for drug courts all across Missouri is a priority for Greitens.

"We will be working with the legislature to make sure these courts get the funding they need to say lives," that person recently stated.

Perhaps the state's biggest fan of the courts is its highest-ranking court officer, Chief Justice Zel Fischer. The judge recently lamented that many counties across Missouri currently have no drug courts owing to the budget slashing, and that people have died as a result.

The courts are widely lauded for their approach to addressing opioid addiction and a treatment/rehabilitation strategy that differs markedly from prison's more narrowly focused punitive aspects. Participants who satisfactorily complete drug court programs avoid felony convictions and are assisted in their efforts to successfully reintegrate back into their local communities.

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