Drug Courts combine drug treatment with the structure of the courtroom. Working as a team, the judge, probation officers, attorneys, and treatment providers cooperate to keep defendants in treatment long enough for it to work. Defendants are supervised closely, routinely drug tested, and held accountable by the judge for meeting their obligations to the court, society, themselves, and their families.
Research indicates that drug courts and diversion programs can reduce recidivism and promote other positive outcomes. Regular visits with the judge and proper rewards and sanctions, combined with substance abuse treatment can turn an offender into a productive member of society. Drug court programs are able to offer support that many participating defendants lack in their personal and professional relationships.
According to a study released by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) in 2003 from a sample of 17,000 drug court graduates nationwide, within one year of program graduation, only 16.4 percent had been rearrested and charged with a felony offense. Historically, adult substance abuse offenders do not remain abstinent after an incarceration term alone; it is with the addition of treatment and the challenge of a drug court program that they are more likely to achieve the goal of remaining drug free.
According to the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP), for every $1.00 invested in Drug Court, taxpayers save as much as $3.36 in avoided criminal justice costs alone. When considering other cost offsets such as savings from reduced victimization and healthcare service utilization, studies have shown benefits range up to $12 for every $1 invested.
Research indicates that without accountability and regular supervision by a judge, 70% of drug offenders drop out of treatment. According to NADCP, drug courts are six times more likely to keep offenders in treatment long enough for them to get better.