TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A local drug treatment program is cutting down on taxpayer costs while helping to reshape lives.
In its five years, Pima County's Drug Treatment Alternative to Prison program has had a 70 percent success rate.
Seven out of 10 drug addicts who go into the program do not go back to drugs, and as a result, do not end up back in jail.
Corey Anderson said his addiction to drugs started at an early age.
"I started drinking and smoking weed when I was like 8 or 9 and started using methamphetamine at 10," Anderson said.
Anderson spent 12 years behind bars, with nine felony convictions by the time he was 38.
He said every time he'd get out of jail – he'd wind up right back in.
"I'd call a friend, bring me half a pound of dope, pick me up and then I would just leave, that was my M.O., what I always did," he said.
Facing a possible 31-year prison sentence for his latest crime, Anderson was given the opportunity to try DTAP.
Participants are addicted to drugs and guilty of committing a non-violent felony.
"I believe in redemption and second chances," Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall said.
LaWall spent more than two decades creating the DTAP program.
She said the biggest hurdle was getting funding with a federal grant.
LaWall said the three-year program is less than half of the cost of imprisonment.
"A prison bed costs at least $30,000 a year per individual and our program costs $9,000 for three years."
LaWall said DTAP is also helping to reduce recidivism rates.
Now Anderson is drug-free and gainfully employed.
He recently regained custody of his kids.
He said he's grateful for the program, and hopes others can learn from his story.
"If I can help just one person or if I can help however many people then my gift's been served, my job's been done."
Those involved in the program must also undergo drug tests and attend monthly hearings, as well as check in with probation officers.
So far the program has served 165 people.