Drug courts are courts specifically for drug-related offences. Defendants who end up in drug court will have the option of entering treatment or beginning a 12-step program in exchange for a dropped or reduced sentence. They agree to the terms of drug court rulings, which typically include periodic drug tests to ensure the defendant is meeting the conditions of his or her deal. Drug courts grew out of the crack epidemic of the 1980s. Judges kept seeing the same defendants over and over and realized this recidivism had more to do with addiction than with some innate criminality. They realized that treating the addiction made a lot more sense than locking up the same people over and over. The first drug courts started in Miami-Dade county in the early 1990s and have now spread all over the country. There are now more than 3000 drug courts in the US. Every drug court is a little bit different. Exactly who is eligible depends on the jurisdiction. Eligibility is typically decided by the judge, the prosecutor, and the defense. Different areas have different rules on who is eligible. For example, in some jurisdictions, violent offenders are not eligible for drug court. Other areas don’t allow defendants charged with selling drugs. Some courts won’t allow defendants with a certain criminal history to plead in drug courts. The rules are also different for defendants who do participate in drug courts. Some sign agreements for what will happen if they don’t meet their treatment obligations. In some jurisdictions, defendants are required to plead guilty and then the plea is thrown out at the completion of the program. Multiple violations might land you in jail. Most drug courts do recognize, however, that relapse is common and they tend to punish non-compliance rather than relapses. The point, after all, is to fix the problem, not to fill up the jails. There is also compelling evidence that drug courts work pretty well. Several studies have found that drug courts significantly reduce recidivism compared to defendants who are put on probation. One study found that the re-arrest rate in one county fell from 40 percent to 12 percent after drug courts were introduced. That translates to a large number of people who get treatment, rejoin the workforce, and keep custody of their kids, rather than sitting in jail. This is also a good deal for the taxpayer. One study found that drug courts save more than 6000 dollars per defendant in processing costs and other long-term costs. Every dollar invested in drug courts saves about 27 dollars.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction or mental illness, we can help. Recovery Ways is a premier drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility located in Salt Lake City, Utah. We have the resources to effectively treat a dual diagnosis. Our mission is to provide the most cost-effective, accessible substance abuse treatment to as many people as possible. Request information online or call us today at 1-888-986-7848.