Functional Significance of Drug Courts

Drug courts, through the cooperative efforts of all stakeholders, provide a comprehensive and efficient utilization of community resources and have proven very effective in reducing recidivism among program participants. According to a September 2003 report by the American University Drug Court Clearinghouse, the 1078 operational drug courts have collectively served more than 300,000 adults and 12,500 juveniles and graduated more than 73,000 adults and 4000 juveniles (2). The report further states that 75,000 of these offenders had been sentenced to periods of incarceration prior to their entering drug court and that despite this fact, drug courts consistently retain over 70% of those who enroll. A 2001 Columbia University National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) study concluded that, even though drug-court participants receive significantly more comprehensive and closer supervision than offenders participating in other forms of community supervision, drug use and criminal behavior is significantly reduced among drug-court participants while they are in drug court (3). The CASA report further concluded that the recidivism or re-arrest rate among drug-court graduates is less than 29%, whereas it exceeds 48% for drug offenders who have not completed a drug-court program.

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