The criminal justice system in the United States is ranked 20th according to a 2018 report published by the World Justice Project. Our system is designed so that anyone who is accused of a criminal act has the right to a fair and impartial trial. The United States criminal justice system is the envy of many around the world. That doesn't mean our system is not without flaws. The United States criminal justice system is not represented by a single, all-encompassing institution. Rather, it is a network of criminal justice systems at the federal, state, and special jurisdictional levels like military courts and territorial courts. The goal of every institution under this system is to punish and deter crime. Unfortunately, this system by design often treats the symptoms of criminal behavior rather than the cause (long-term abuse of alcohol and other drugs). Every institution across our great country has room for improvement. Our criminal justice system needs to improve the process of identifying and treating individuals whose criminal behavior is a result of habitual substance abuse.
A significant number of repeat offenders were exposed to drug use and criminal behavior from early childhood. They watched their parents using heroin, crack, or meth while they sat hungry in a filthy apartment or motel. Drug use began for many of them before their 10th birthday. They were taught dishonesty, betrayal, hatred, and criminal behavior from the moment they came into this world.
Should those of us in society who grew up in a stable, safe, clean, and drug-free environment expect children raised in a world of addiction and abuse to magically behave in a manner that we consider socially acceptable? Even for those who grew up in a less than ideal situation, surely the differences between growing up in an unhappy home compared to a home of addiction and abuse are apparent. Many of us are so contained in our own little bubble we don't recognize the role substance abuse plays in criminal behavior. We hear the story of a crime and automatically pass a harsh judgment.
Many state and local criminal courts set up programs specifically designed to identify individuals who suffer from long-term substance abuse and provide a treatment based alternative sentence. The programs are tailored to meet the needs of those whose criminal behaviors are a derivative of a life of addiction. Accountability Courts are programs that teach life skills, emotional intelligence, coping skills, and provide participants an opportunity to build a life without the influence of drugs or alcohol. Personal responsibility is a central theme within various Accountability Court programs. All participants are required to face the consequences of their past behavior and develop the skills necessary for future success. The programs range in length anywhere from 12 to 24 months depending on the circumstances of each participant. Accountability Courts allow individuals to experience the full spectrum of human emotion while in a safe environment that provides guidance and direction. Unfortunately, these programs are dependent on very limited funding thus limiting the number of participants and the scope of benefits available to participants.
Our vision at the Brent C. Allsup Foundation is to bring awareness of Accountability Court programs into local communities and provide additional support directly to participants so that they may enjoy opportunities previously not available to them. We are the organization that will help those living a life of recovery afford necessities such as a safe and clean living environment, reliable transportation, and other household staples. The Foundation will assist in the recovery process by helping people build a stable and productive life...a life they will not want to sacrifice by returning to drugs or alcohol.