Drug court programs are considerably more effective than traditional criminal prosecution methods, according to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance Drug Court Clearinghouse, which surveyed 20 drug court programs in effect for at least one year. The results are contained in the two-volume report Drug Courts: An Overview of Operational Characteristics and Implementation Issues.
Among the findings are the following:
- Recidivism has been significantly reduced among drug court program participants;
- Drug use has significantly decreased among drug court participants while they are involved in the program;
- An unanticipated beneficial effect has been the birth of a significant number of drug-free babies to women enrolled in drug court programs;
- Many programs are now expanding their targeted population based on the success of their initial implementation experience;
- Prosecutors and law enforcement officials have shown significant support for drug court programs and, in a number of jurisdictions, have contributed asset-forfeiture funds to augment available treatment resources; and
- Drug court programs are extremely cost-effective, with the average treatment costs ranging from $900 to $1,600 per participant (program graduation 18-22 months) as compared to an average cost of $60 per day per defendant for a minimal period of incarceration in the local county jail or $123 per day in a California prison facility (National Institute of Corrections – 2009).