Statistics tell us that as many as 90 percent of incarcerated individuals housed in the nation’s jails and prisons suffer from addiction, mental health issues, or both. All too often the addiction or mental health issue is what led the inmate to commit the crime for which he/she was sentenced to jail or prison. Realizing this, more and more court systems across the country are turning to alternatives to incarceration, such a treatment programs. If you are currently facing charges in the State of Tennessee and you have an addiction and/or are suffering from mental illness you are probably wondering “Can I do a treatment program instead of jail in Tennessee?”
Having a substance abuse addiction, and/or suffering from mental illness, is not an excuse for committing a criminal offense; however, it can be and explanation for why people do commit offenses. An individual with an undiagnosed mental illness often tries to “self-medicate.” This, in turn, frequently leads to a substance abuse addiction. An addiction can be expensive, which often leads to committing crimes to get the money to purchase the drugs. This vicious cycle occurs over and over again all across the nation every day. One way to try and stop the cycle is to attempt to actually treat the underlying problems instead of simply punishing addicts and the mentally ill for their illegal behavior. In Tennessee, the “Drug Control Treatment Act of 2003” authorized drug court treatment programs in Tennessee aimed at doing just that. The state also has a Mental Health court designed specifically to deal with offender who have a diagnosed mental illness.
Both substance abuse and mental health treatment programs are operated at the county level, meaning there may, or may not, be a program available in your county. Furthermore, the eligibility requirements as well as the completion requirements can vary from one program to the next. In general, however, treatment programs will not accept individuals charged with serious and/or violent crimes. You must also have a diagnosed addiction or mental illness and agree to abide by the very stringent rules of the program. Drug treatment programs will require you to submit to regular testing with a positive result being cause for your termination. Mental health treatment will require you to take all prescribed medications and attend all individual and group counseling ordered by the court. Typically, a treatment program will take a minimum of 18 months to complete; however, if you do successfully complete the program your charges will be dismissed, meaning you avoid a criminal conviction on your permanent record and you get help for your underlying issues.
If you have been charged with a criminal offense and believe you may qualify for a treatment program in the State of Tennessee, consult with the experienced Tennessee criminal defense attorneys at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.
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