How effective are Minnesota’s drug courts?

A Minnesota man was arrested on drug charges and ordered to participate in drug court. According to, the was required, among other things, to meet with his probation officer, make and keep an appointment with a workforce center and apply to five jobs.

As a drug lawyer in Minneapolis may have seen, a recent study shows that the state’s drug court system has been effective at reducing recidivism and lowering incarceration rates. Additionally, the process saves valuable taxpayer money.

About drug courts

The drug court program is intended to help people with alcohol and substance abuse problems make progress toward sobriety. According to the Minnesota Judicial Branch, there are several standards related to participating in drug court, such as the following:

  • Participants must practice abstinence, which is monitored by random, frequent drug testing.
  • Drug courts provide access to rehabilitation and treatment centers.
  • Judges, prosecution and defense work together to help the defendant deal with addiction.

One of the requirements mandates that a participant checks in with a probation officer or makes court appearances. Through fulfilling these requirements, someone charged with a drug crime is able to avoid a jail sentence.

An effective approach

In 2012, the Minnesota Judicial Branch released a report that compared two groups of offenders: those who participated in drug courts and those who went through the traditional court process.

The study found that 41 percent of those in the traditional court group had been charged with a new offense within 2½ years, compared to just 26 percent of drug court participants. A similar trend was evident in conviction rates. A drug lawyer in Minneapolis would note that researchers found that people who participated in drug court were more likely to find employment or be enrolled in school upon completion.

The Star Tribune reported that a recent follow-up study has shown even lower recidivism rates among drug court participants than the 2012 report. Additionally, the same group spent 74 fewer days incarcerated compared to similar offenders.

Saving money

In addition to effectively rehabilitating participants, drug courts also take a financial burden off the judicial system. The Star Tribune reports that the 50 courts in operation across Minnesota have led to an average savings of $4,288 per participant. The National Association of Drug Court Professionals states that drug courts save money because of reduced criminal justice costs, lower victimization and health care services and less prison costs.

The effects of a drug crime conviction can be devastating not only for the accused but also his or her family. Drug courts provide a meaningful alternative that can help offenders avoid prison time and get on a better path for a productive future. Anyone with questions about this matter should contact a drug lawyer in Minneapolis.

He has won jury trial cases in misdemeanor and felony cases and in DWI’s and non-DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. He is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

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