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Centre County officials excited about drug court prospects

Various counties across Pennsylvania have so-called "drug courts" in place, which operate as criminal justice tools lauded by many for their creativity and fresh approach toward reducing recidivism, cutting costs and helping to reintegrate offenders into their local communities.

Centre County is not one of them. At least not yet.

Material change is seemingly on the horizon, though, as noted in a recent media report chronicling county officials' efforts to get a local drug court up and running as soon as possible.

A high number of county residents who thoughtfully reflect on criminal law policies and outcomes will likely applaud such a resource locally. Drug courts across the country routinely demonstrate a strong efficacy in responding to repeat drug offenders (many of whom are nonviolent) in ways that stress outcomes other than the mere piling on of successive prison terms.

The result, say a progressively growing band of bipartisan advocates, is salutary across many dimensions. Court dockets are cleared. Jail/prison space is freed up. A significant amount of tax money is saved.

And, importantly, qualifying applicants for drug court do not sit idly behind bars in a toxic environment that impedes rather than promotes personal success following completion of their sentences and after they return to their communities.

Centre County will soon submit a federal grant proposal for a county court, with incoming funds intended to be used for treatment services, case management and related matters. Officials say that receipt of federal money would likely cover court costs for three years. If the grant request is approved, the court could open sometime this autumn.

Where drug courts are available, they are strong options for offenders who might otherwise have no alternative to a return to prison and more time spent languishing away behind bars.

Questions regarding drug courts - their focus, their benefits and so forth - can be directed to a proven State College criminal defense attorney.

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