"I'm seeing something real, something that has changed people's lives. There is hope."
Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Kay Cobb, speaking to Drug Court graduates in Brookhaven, Mississippi
Drug court programs may be very demanding. Participants receive intensive supervision composed of frequent court appearances and drug screening, along with highly structured courses of treatment and recovery services. Active monitoring of a participant's progress allows the Drug Court Team to actively support the recovery process and react quickly when appropriate therapeutic supports are necessary or to reinstate criminal proceedings when participants cannot comply with the program.
Adult felony drug courts require a minimum of 52 weeks to complete. Juvenile drug court programs require a minimum of six to ten months for completion. During this time, participants will successfully participate in: detoxification (If necessary), inpatient and outpatient treatments, substance abuse counseling and support services, drug education classes, random drug screening, and completion of community service hours.
In conjunction with these requirements the participant will receive probation, supervision, and case management services, The participant is also required to attend regularly scheduled status hearings before a judge. The Drug Court may also provide family counseling, life-skill development, and job skills training services.
The National Association of Drug Court Professionals has set forth these eight key elements to provide a guideline and structure format for Drug Courts in the Nation.
- Drug Courts integrate alcohol and other drug treatment services with justice case processing.
- Using a non-adversarial approach, prosecution and defense counsel promote public safety while protecting participants' due process rights.
- Eligible participants are identified early and promptly placed in the Drug Court program.
- Drug Court provides access to a continuum of alcohol, drug, and other related treatment and rehabilitation services.
- Frequent alcohol and other drug testing to monitor abstinence.
- A coordinated strategy governs Drug Court responses to participants' compliance.
- Ongoing judicial interaction with each Drug Court participant is essential.
- Clear monitoring and evaluation measures track the achievement of individual participants' program goals and gauge the effectiveness of the program.
"Drug courts are an effective and cost efficient way to help non-violent drug offenders commit to a rigorous drug treatment program in lieu of prison. By leveraging the coercive power of the criminal justice system, drug courts can alter the behavior of non-violent, low-level drug offenders through a combination of judicial supervision, case management, mandatory drug testing, and treatment to ensure abstinence from drugs, and escalating sanctions."
Former U.S. President George W. Bush
Drug courts were created with the intent of stopping substance abuse and related criminal activity. Drug courts are unique in the criminal justice environment because they build a close collaborative relationship between criminal justice and drug treatment professionals.
Additional Resources to Review
Pima County Superior Court: Drug Court
Coconino Drug Court
Office of National Drug Control Policy
National Association of Drug Court Professionals
"Juvenile Drug Courts: Strategies in Practice", U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance
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