Drug Court

THE VERDICT IS IN… Drug Courts Work!

In 20 years since the first Drug Court was founded, there has been more research published on the effects of Drug Courts than on virtually all other criminal justice programs combined.

The scientific community has put Drug Courts under a microscope and concluded that Drug Courts work. Better than jail or prison. Better than probation and treatment alone. Drug Courts significantly reduce drug use and crime and are more cost-effective than any other proven criminal justice strategy.

Drug Courts Reduce Crime
  • FACT: Nationwide, 75% of Drug Court graduates remain arrest-free at least two years after leaving the program.
  • FACT: Rigorous studies examining long-term outcomes of individual Drug Courts have found that reductions in crime last at least 3 years and can endure for over 14 years.
  • FACT: The most rigorous and conservative scientific “meta-analyses” have all concluded that Drug Courts significantly reduce crime as much as 45 percent more than other sentencing options.
Drug Courts Save Money
  • FACT: Nationwide, for every $1.00 invested in Drug Court, taxpayers save as much as $3.36 in avoided criminal justice costs alone.
  • FACT: When considering other cost offsets such as savings from reduced victimization and healthcare service utilization, studies have shown benefits range up to $27 for every $1 invested.
  • FACT: Drug Courts produce cost savings ranging from $3,000 to $13,000 per client. These cost savings reflect reduced prison costs, reduced revolving-door arrests and trials, and reduced victimization.
  • FACT: In 2007, for every Federal dollar invested in Drug Court, $9.00 was leveraged in state funding.
Drug Courts Ensure Compliance
  • FACT: Unless substance abusing/addicted offenders are regularly supervised by a judge and held accountable, 70% drop out of treatment prematurely.
  • FACT: Drug Courts provide more comprehensive and closer supervision than other community-based supervision programs.
  • FACT: Drug Courts are six times more likely to keep offenders in treatment long enough for them to get better.

How Drug Courts Work

Eligible drug-addicted persons may be sent to Drug Court in lieu of traditional justice system case processing. Drug Courts keep individuals in treatment long enough for it to work, while supervising them closely. For a minimum term of one year, participants are:

  • provided with intensive treatment and other services they require to get and stay clean and sober;
  • held accountable by the Drug Court judge for meeting their obligations to the court, society, themselves and their families;
  • regularly and randomly tested for drug use;
  • required to appear in court frequently so that the judge may review their progress; and
  • rewarded for doing well or sanctioned when they do not live up to their obligations.

Who is Eligible

Eligibility for Drug Court varies according to state and local guidelines, and on the type of Drug Court model (For example, currently most Drug Courts in the nation are adult criminal Drug Courts, which, along with DWI Courts, function within the adult criminal justice system and target adult offenders. Family Drug Court participants, however, are parents facing child abuse/neglect charges in civil court.

Some state legislatures or regulatory bodies have created eligibility guidelines for Drug Courts. Although eligibility guidelines vary, most Drug Courts do not consider violent offenders. Adult criminal Drug Courts usually consider both drug and drug-driven offenses. And where offenses involve victims, the consent of the victim and payment of restitution is typically mandatory.

What Drug Courts Do

Drug Courts are the most effective justice intervention for treating drug-addicted people. Drug Courts reduce drug use. Drug Courts reduce crime. Drug Courts save money. Drug Courts restore lives. Drug Courts save children and reunite families.