NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Court officials said they're saving taxpayers thousands of dollars by keeping drug addicts out of jail. The drug court participants are doing community projects.
The men and women in General Sessions Judge Casey Moreland's drug court are glad to talk to you.
"We're recovering addicts and we're proud of it," said one woman.
On Wednesday, they cleaned, cooked and served food at Loaves and Fishes in East Nashville.
"We're serving the homeless food," said another woman proudly.
They said it's a way for them to give back to the community.
"Just imagine. I was out there and now I'm in here helping people," said one participant.
Each drug court graduating class is required to do a community service project. Mary Page is part of that class. She hopes to graduate in a couple of months. Page was once addicted to crack cocaine.
"You know, you look at your life sometimes and you think, God, screw this. I'll just go get high," said Page.
The former bank senior vice president got a divorce, lost her job and turned to drugs. She said the drug court has been a life saver.
"You drug test once a week. You go to four meetings, four treatments a week and a meeting every day, an AA or NA meeting every day," said Page.
The former banker also said the program is demanding and it's not for everyone.
"It's easy to relapse. I just got back, but I've got to work the program, work the steps," said participant Katy Moran.
Judge Moreland started the drug court more than half a dozen years ago.
"For the longest time there was the war on drugs the government was waging, and now it's more fighting the demand side of the addiction," said Moreland.
He said the trend is toward more programs like it because it saves taxpayers money and it helps dozens of people.
Moreland said for every dollar spent $12 are saved because it costs taxpayers between $75 and $150 dollars a day to house an inmate. The alternative to drug court for many of the participants is jail time.
Mary Page said the program was the obvious choice for her.
"You don't have to do any of it. You can go to jail and do your time, but for an opportunity to change your life this is one of the best things," said Page.
Judge Moreland said his drug court costs taxpayers $50,000 a year. Other funding comes from court fees paid by defendants.