Report validates drug courts impact on drug usage, crime and cost savings

A study surveying 23 drug court locations and 1,156 drug court participants across the country has found that drug courts produce significant reductions in drug relapse and criminal behavior among participants. The courts also produce a number of other positive outcomes, according to the report by the National Institute of Justice.

The study, administered in 2004, sought to determine if drug courts make a significant difference in the lives and behavior of participants. It also examined whether drug courts generate cost savings.

Researchers found drug court participants were significantly less likely to report using all drugs – 56 percent versus a comparison group at 76 percent – and were also less likely to report using hard drugs (41 vs. 58 percent). Participants were also much less likely than the comparison group to report committing crimes (40 vs. 53 percent). Researchers pointed out that drug courts reduced the number of criminal acts committed by participants by nearly half when compared with the comparison group.

Drug court also resulted in other positive outcomes, the report found. Participants were much less likely to report a need for employment, education, or financial services. Drug court participants also reported much less family conflict than comparison offenders.

Finally, researchers found drug courts, though more expensive to operate than traditional courts, save money through improved outcomes. This includes savings to victims, a decrease in crime and re-arrest, and less jail time.

BI supports drug courts with electronic monitoring solutions – to ensure participants adhere to court-ordered curfews and conditions of release – and day reporting options that deliver evidence-based programs involving treatment, training and intensive case management.

To read more, you can view the Multi-Site Adult Drug Court Evaluation report.