Often, when it's argued that those arrested on non-violent drug charges should get treatment instead of incarceration, it's done from a humanitarian perspective. The basic idea is that people who are addicted to drugs may not want to commit crimes, but the addiction pushes them into it. They don't need to be locked up. They just need treatment to overcome the addiction, and then they'll live a crime-free life. This is often touted as being better than incarceration at breaking crime cycles and helping people move forward in life -- which is easier without a criminal record.

Follow the Money

While all of these are valid points, it's also worth noting that there could be a significant financial reason to turn to treatment instead of jail time. Some reports claim that savings could be in the billions. With annual savings, an incredible amount of taxpayer money could potentially be saved with an overall reform of drug laws, these studies say.

These savings show up for a few different reasons. For one thing, though rehab isn't free, it typically costs less than incarceration. Plus, if those who are addicted are able to overcome their issues, they won't be as likely to be re-arrested. Law enforcement costs would also decline, with the reduced need for police raids, prison guards, and more.

Programs Exist

These types of diversion programs do exist. They're often targeted at young offenders who are in trouble for the first time. However, reports show that saving would increase dramatically if they were simply used more often. For example, one report claimed that savings would hit $4.8 billion if just 10 percent of those arrested got treatment instead. The savings would then jump to $12.9 billion if 40 percent got to utilize this option.

Considering Diversion Programs

Clearly, there's a significant financial incentive for the government to use diversion programs and rehab instead of only jail time. If you're facing drug charges, it's wise to find out if you're eligible for such a program. Though it may take time to complete, it could prove far better than jail time and may even leave you without a criminal record if your charges are dropped upon completion of the program.

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