National Publication for Drug Court Professionals Gets Word Out that Drug Courts Reduce Costs and Crime

Drug courts divert nonviolent, drug-abusing offenders to court-supervised treatment programs. The National Association of Drug Court Professionals published and disseminated:

  • The June 1998 inaugural issue of the National Drug Court Institute Review.
  • A reprint of one article in that issue that reviewed evaluations conducted of drug courts nationwide.
  • A 2001 update of the previous evaluation review of drug courts.

Key Findings

  • In the 1998 review of drug courts nationwide, the principal investigator reported that:

    • Drug courts provide closer, more comprehensive supervision of drug offenders than other forms of community supervision.
    • Drug use and criminal behavior are substantially reduced while offenders participate in drug courts.
    • Drug courts generate cost savings, at least in the short term, from reduced jail/prison use, reduced criminal behavior and lower criminal justice system costs.
  • In his 2001 update, the principal investigator reported that:

    • Some 47 percent of drug court participants completed their programs.
    • One year after the program, re-arrest rates were lower for drug court participants than for other offenders, but the longer-term impact on repeat crimes remains unknown.

Key Conclusions

  • Periodic, multi-year evaluations of drug courts are more accurate than one-time evaluations, as drug court impacts may vary over time.

  • Evaluations of drug courts could be improved by:

    • More precisely describing data sources, measures and time frames for data collection.
    • Distinguishing between in-program and post-program results.