New Hope For Prison Overcrowding

Sue Bell Cobb is Alabama's supreme court chief justice.  She says, "Today the department of mental health and mental retardation will present vouchers of $50-thousand dollars to the counties who are either expanding or establishing drug courts."

Representative John Knight obtained a million dollars in state and federal funds to enhance the program.....but will that money be there in the future?

Knight says, "I think that with the problems that we have in this state as it relates to corrections and the drug problem that we have, I don't think it's going to be a problem at all."

Habitual offender laws will not be affected. They are not including violent offenders or dealers, only users.

Cobb adds,  "We are at the point of truly convincing policy makers that the focus should be on drug court treatment and treatment for offenders as opposed to simply locking people up."

She credits three branches of government working in tandem to come up with a solution.

The bottom line? Lessoning the overcrowded conditions in prisons like this one. But how much of a difference can it really make?

A lot, according to Jeff Williams, the state corrections department's community corrections director, "We believe that intervention on the front end through drug court programs through court referral programs and the community corrections programs can turn some of those offenders around prior to reaching a correctional institution."

And if that intervention can be done in court and be successful. It can save Alabama money and maybe even lives.