MANATEE — Those who commit crimes as a result of substance abuse and go through drug court cost Manatee County between $2,500 and $3,700 a year, officials estimate.
If they go to jail, it costs $25,915 a year, officials say.
At its cheapest, drug court is about 10 percent of the cost of jail, drug court administrator Walt Smith told county commissioners Tuesday.
“Drug court is cost-effective, and generally cheaper, compared with other alternatives,” Smith said during a workshop session at County Administrative Center. Due to the specialized drug court’s extensive supervision of those arrested for nonviolent offenses related to substance abuse, criminal behavior can be halted quickly following an arrest, officials said.
“There’s a reduction in crime. They’re not out there committing crimes,” Smith said.
About 175 people are now under the jurisdiction of drug court, officials said.
“Drug court is very effective,” said State Attorney Ed Brodsky, whose office has supported the program since its inception in 1997. “Without any doubt in my mind, it’s one of the best ones,” Brodsky said.
County commissioners are considering how to finance the drug court program in the future. This year’s county budget calls for spending $737,839 on drug court. The total includes $141,460 from a grant, and the balance from the general revenue fund, according to county documents.
“At $3,700 per person to be in this program, you can’t hardly beat that,” said Commissioner Vanessa Baugh.