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What Is A Drug Court, And How Does It Benefit To The Community?

Drug court is a special program that functions within the Superior Court to address non-violent drug cases. The mission of a drug court is to end the alcohol and drug abuse that goes hand in hand with crime. Drug court seeks to build a collaborative relationship between the justice system and drug treatment professionals. Drug court is headed up by a judge who has a team of lawyers, probation officers, drug and alcohol abuse specialists, and drug treatment professionals. This entire drug court staff participates in drug court education and training courses to help them better work together to monitor the offending addict’s recovery. As a team, they balance support with supervision and encouragement with authority.

Drug court is a challenging program for both offenders and the drug court staff, as it requires frequent drug tests, court appearances, and structured treatment and recovery programs. While challenging, the drug court program allows an offender the choice to either actively participate in the recovery process or face sanctions and criminal proceedings if the offender does not abide by the rules of drug court. These rules include the completion of a GED or high school degree, as well as the attainment of a job or job training. However, drug court rarely removes a person from the program but instead intensifies its methods to keep a challenging offender off of drugs.

History of Drug court

Drug court began in 1989 as a way to address the exploding rate of recidivism. The idea behind drug court is to end the cycle of drug abuse and criminal activity by supporting offenders in achieving sobriety from drugs and alcohol. Today there are over 2,140 active drug courts operating in the United States. Drug courts seek to end addiction by promoting individual responsibility and accountability amongst offenders and promoting productivity in each offender’s community. Drug court is an attractive alternative to serving jail time and offers substance abuse treatment within the justice system. Moreover, Drug court programs are continuously monitored to evaluate their effectiveness and improve their programs.

Drug Court Eligibility

Offenders are chosen to participate in drug court on the basis of a standardized assessment which is used to identify eligible participants, non-violent drug abusers. Drug court does not seek to punish offenders but rather operates in a supportive atmosphere that emphasizes substance abuse recovery. Offenders are encouraged to develop goals by which to measure their recovery, and incentives, rather than punishments, hold participants accountable for non-compliance. Typically, an offender participates in the drug court program for a minimum of one year and up to two years before being released from the court’s supervision. The amount of time an offender spends in the program depends on how well he or she responds to substance abuse treatment.

Benefits to the Community

As well as benefiting the offender by replacing jail time with drug and alcohol abuse treatment, thus ending the cycle of substance abuse and crime, drug court also benefits the community by reducing street crime and reducing the costs associated with overcrowded prisons and courtrooms.



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