Programs to Reduce Arrests and Incarceration of Students

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In Iowa City, home to the University of Iowa, initiatives are in place to diminish the legal impact on students making poor decisions early in life. In an effort to reduce arrests and incarceration of students, the following programs have been established:

  • Diversion Programs for Drug and Alcohol Cases. The County Attorney’s Office implemented a marijuana diversion program in July 2010 and an alcohol diversion program in January 2011. These initiatives replace jail time with treatment and education programs.
  • Driving Under Suspicion Court. The “Rocket Docket” court allows defendants facing simple misdemeanor Driving Under Suspension (DUS) charges to pay past due fines and other financial obligations in order to get a valid driver’s license in exchange for having their DUS charge dismissed.
  • Drug Court. A Drug Court provides extensive drug treatment, supervision, and weekly contact with the judge and Drug Court team. This reduces recidivism and saves millions of dollars.
  • Substance Abuse Evaluations and Treatment. It’s been determined that many people are incarcerated for what seem to be uniquely drug-related crimes. By removing the drug influence from people’s lives, with treatment, they can return to a normal productive life.

Alcohol is a factor in 40% of all violent crimes today

20130422mo-national-council-on-alcoholism-and-drug-dependence-ncadd-logo-300x80Introduction. People complain when college students are arrested and jailed for public intoxication, “It’s just young people having a good time.”

Unfortunately, this attitude seems to minimize the potential crime risk that is statistically caused by the influence of alcohol. The following information is from the National Council on Alcoholism and  Drug Dependence.

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Excessive drinking leads to criminal behavior:

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) estimated that a majority of criminal offenders were under the influence of alcohol alone when they committed their crimes.

Federal research shows that for the 40% of convicted murderers being held in either jail or State prison, alcohol use was a factor in the homicide.

FACT:  Alcohol is a factor in 40% of all violent crimes today

About 3 million violent crimes occur each year in which victims perceive the offender to have been drinking.  Crimes include: rape, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated and simple assault.  About two-thirds of violent crimes are characterized as simple assaults.

Based on victim reports, alcohol use by the offender was a factor in:

  • 37% of rapes and sexual assaults
  • 15% of robberies
  • 27% of aggravated assaults, and
  • 25% of simple assaults

Statistics showing correlation between alcohol and crime (from the NCADD Fact Sheet Alcohol and Crime):

  • Among violent crimes, the offender is far more likely to have been drinking than under the influence of other drugs, with the exception of robberies, where other drugs are likely to have been used such as alcohol.
  • Alcohol is more likely to be a factor in violence, where the attacker and the victim know each other.  Two-thirds of victims who were attacked by an intimate (including a current or former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend) reported that alcohol had been involved, and only 31% of victimizations by strangers are alcohol-related.
  • Nearly 500,000 incidents between intimates involve offenders who have been drinking; in addition, 118,000 incidents of family violence (excluding spouses) involve alcohol, as do 744,000 incidents among acquaintances.
  • 1.4 million incidents of alcohol-related violence are committed against strangers.
  • Individuals under age 21 were the victims in just over 13% of incidents of alcohol-related violence, and the offenders in nearly 9%.
  • 70% of alcohol-related incidents of violence occur in the home with greatest frequency at 11:00 pm…..20% of these incidents involve the use of a weapon other than hands, fists or feet.

Men and women suffer.  Children suffer.  Families suffer.  Loved ones suffer.  People get killed.  Alcohol and Crime go hand in hand.  It’s simply a fact. 

Effectively confronting alcohol-related crime will require a balanced approach of public education, professional training, increased assessment and referral for treatment, expanded access to treatment, recovery housing and recovery support.  For the great majority of offenders, we rely solely on punishment or incarceration as the only response…….and for most, not surprisingly, it is ineffective.  Plain and simple, we have failed to treat the cause – binge drinking, alcohol abuse and dependence- alcoholism.