Drug courts have been expanding around the country for years and today more than 60 percent of the jurisdictions in the United States have drug courts. Drug courts are a specialized legal forum where offenders admit guilt to drug crimes and if the offenders are found to have a substance abuse issue, they can then participate in a substance abuse program that is jointly run by the court.
Offenders who participate in the substance abuse program have case managers, submit to random drug testing and regularly appear before the court. The programs range from six to 12 months, and if offenders successfully complete the program then their charges or penalties are reduced or dismissed.
Drug court programs are generally believed to be beneficial, and the study was conducted to test that belief. The study compared the experiences of drug offenders who participated in drug court with similar drug offenders who did not participate in drug court for a period of five years. Offenders who participated in the program were not as likely to commit a new crime. Offenders who participated in the program and committed another crime took a longer amount of time to reoffend than those who do not participate in drug court. Participants reoffended in 614 days and nonparticipants reoffended in 460 days.
Source: Medscape News, “Drug Court cuts recidivism, keeps offenders out of jail,” Kate Johnson, 4/21/11