Drug Courts in Missouri underfunded by $23 million

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JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri drug and treatment courts are looking for $23 million dollars to fulfill needs.

The Missouri Judicial System asked the House Budget Committee Thursday for increased funding, in part to make up for a $1.7 million cut last year. The Judicial System also wants an additional $1.75 million recommended by Gov. Eric Greitens.

Betsy AuBuchon, a Clerk with the Supreme Court of Missouri, said the courts currently get about $6 million, but need closer to $30 million.

She said the additional funding would be worthwhile.

"The drug courts have proven to be good financial investments," she said. "There are cost savings associated with drug courts. It is a cheaper way to treat the problem without sending them to the department of corrections."

AuBuchon said, with the current funding, defendants deemed to need treatment might not get it. Instead, because there is not enough space, they might be sent to the department of corrections.

"A lot of people who can not get into treatment, that is where they end up," she said.

AuBuchon said, by funding drug courts the state could also lower it's recidivism rate, or the rate at which people return to prison. Defendants who go through drug courts are significantly less likely to re-offend.

"They're able to keep they're jobs, and they're able to keep their families together," she said.

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