A drug court is a system in which individuals with drug and alcohol addictions can go through an alternative court process instead of traditional court. Drug courts, instead of prosecuting, put individuals in drug treatment programs. Drug court processes usually last for a minimum of one year. The process typically consists of intensive treatment and accountability with judges and families. Individuals are also given a number of random drug tests and progress reports in court, to make sure they stay on track with the program. People can also be given rewards or punishments depending on how well they focus on recovery. A person’s eligibility for drug court depends on a number of factors that vary by state and district.
There are a number of types of drug courts, including adult drug courts, juvenile drug courts, veterans’ drug courts, and campus drug courts. These different courts are centered on the individual needs of those involved. For example, juvenile drug courts provide juveniles and their families with counseling, provide education, and promote family involvement in treatment and recovery, according to the National Criminal Justice Reference Service. The benefits of drug courts are far-reaching and plenty. According to the NADCP, 75% of drug court graduates remain arrest free for at least two years and overall drug-related crimes have decreased. In addition, NADCP also reports that “Nationwide, for every $1.00 invested in Drug Court, taxpayers save as much as $3.36 in avoided criminal justice costs alone.” (NADCP Facts and Figures).
The first Drug Court was created in Miami-Dade County, Florida, in 1989, when a group of justice professionals combined the lasting effects of drug treatment with the authority of the legal system. Today, there are more than 2,700 Drug Courts in the United States. The National Association of Drug Court Professionals, or NADCP is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 1994. The NADCP has fought to expand the number of Drug Courts and has contributed to their rapid spread. With the help of the NADCP, there are drug courts and other similarly modeled problem solving courts in all 50 states and U.S. territories, giving second chances to former addicts everywhere.