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Specialty Courts

Drug Court

It is the mission of the Drug Court program to successfully place persons charged with felony possession of controlled substances into a closely supervised treatment program in order to achieve recovery for the offender and reduce societal and criminal justice system costs. The goal of the program is to graduate a clean and sober, responsible, healthy, productive and employed member of our community.

Why Do We Need Drug Court?

Research has demonstrated that roughly 75% of the crimes committed at the state and local levels are drug related. There are really only two effective means of halting or reducing the criminality of the drug addicted offender: lock them up or successfully treat the addiction. It costs about $96 per day to house an offender in the County Jail and the addicted offender comes out still addicted and lacking in education or skills to change prior behavior. It costs about $9 per day to treat and educate drug offenders and when that offender is treated within the model called `Drug Court,' the outcomes are dramatically improved over all known prior methods of dealing with such offenders.

Drug Court frees up jail space for more serious offenders who desperately need to remain in custody, but it also provides closer supervision and a longer period of treatment than any other criminal justice or corrections programs. Drug Court has excellent outcomes, is efficient, and cost effective. We need Drug Court because it works.

What is a Drug Court?

The first Drug Court was created in 1989 in Miami, Florida, in response to the serious drug problems in south Florida. It was designed to place drug-affected defendants into appropriate treatment programs with close supervision by a single judge familiar with both treatment and the offenders. The program includes treatment for at least nine months with regular, random urinalysis testing to check progress and compliance. It also includes frequent court appearances by each participant in front of the Drug Court Judge. Treatment progress and compliance is discussed and if necessary, sanctions and/or incentives may be imposed by the judge to achieve compliance.

This model for dealing with drug dependent and addicted offenders has proven so effective and cost efficient that there are now Drug Courts in every state and even foreign countries. Lane County's Drug Court, which became operational in October, 1994, was one of the first 20 drug courts in the United States and is based on the Miami model.

Does Drug Court Work?

Considerable research has been conducted on Drug Courts. Columbia University's National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse concluded that Drug Courts are both efficient and cost effective. Among their findings were the following:

  1. Drug Courts have much higher rates of retention in treatment than other criminal justice programs, or for treatment in general;
  2. Drug Courts are not just treating first time offenders but are treating many drug offenders with long criminal records;
  3. Drug Courts provide closer, more comprehensive supervision (monitoring and testing) than other criminal justice programs;
  4. Drug Courts generate savings and cost avoidance in reduced jail/prison use, reduced criminality and lower criminal justice costs;
  5. The treatment is for longer periods of time than occurs in other justice programs;
  6. Criminal recidivism is substantially reduced.

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