Drug courts have been a great alternative to jail for certain offenders for years. While, its a fairly new program drug courts have been around since 1989 when the first drug court was established in Florida. Drug court is defined as, "Drug courts can be defined as "special court calendars or dockets designed to achieve a reduction in recidivism and substance abuse among nonviolent, substance abusing offenders by increasing their likelihood for successful rehabilitation through early, continuous, and intense judicially supervised treatment" (NCJRS). Drug courts give the offenders a second chance to shape up and possibly gain some responsibility for their self. Of course drug courts do not work for everyone and many people fail and go to prison. However, the ones that pass their assigned program are given a chance to shape up and not have to go to prison. The drug court works with a certain model in order to gain the most effective success. This model includes; Incorporating drug testing into case processing, creating a non adversarial relationship between the court and the defendant, Identifying defendants in need of treatment and referring them to treatment as soon as possible after arrest, making sure the defendants remain abstinent by continually giving drug screens throughout their treatment, Establishing a coordinated strategy to govern drug court responses to participants' compliance, Maintaining judicial interaction with each drug court participant, Monitoring and evaluating program goals and gauging their effectiveness, Continuing interdisciplinary education to promote effective drug court planning, implementation, and operations, and finally Forging partnerships among drug courts, public agencies, and community-based organizations to generate local support and enhance drug court effectiveness. (this drug court model information is right from the NCJRS website https://www.ncjrs.gov/spotlight/drug_courts/summary.html) In order for a drug court to be truly successful it will compose a great deal of these assets to increase efficiency.
Drug courts have many advantages one of the biggest advantages would have to be the amount of money saved from the defendant going to drug court rather then prison. one definitive cost-benefit evaluation estimated the average investment per program participant was $5,928; the savings were $2,329 in avoided criminal justice system costs and $1,301 in avoided victimization costs over a 30 month period. However, there are many other benefits to drug courts other than money. In an overall sense drug courts have lead to reduction in drug use, reduction in recidivism, intensive supervision of defendants, the reuniting of families, birth of drug free babies, and overall a greater credibility for the criminal justice process. This is not to say that in every case all these things occur, but in an overall sense for all drug courts these are the benefits of the programs.
Since 1989 there has been a huge increase in the amount of drug courts, "As of November 2011, there were 2,232 drug courts operating in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and Guam. Another 204 drug court programs were in the planning stages". This to me just shows how great of program drug courts really are. Of course with any program there are faults and problems, but in general drug courts have done an amazing thing for the criminal justice system and is allowing for more people to go home to their families instead of prison. Our prisons are already crowded enough and drug courts are helping that problem year after year. I only hope that drug courts continue to grow and more ideas are thought of to improve and make them even more effective. Some questions for you guys, Do you have any ideas in order to improve the current drug court model? Has anyone had prior experience in a drug court or know anyone who was apart of a drug court? Did drug court work for that person?