During the month of May, drug courts throughout the country—more than 3,000 nationwide—are celebrating National Drug Court Month. Each year, more than 150,000 individuals nationwide who enter the justice system because of addiction receive lifesaving treatment and the chance to repair their lives, reconnect with their families, and find long-term recovery. National Drug Court Month is a celebration of the lives restored by drug court programs.
More than 30 years ago, the first drug court opened its doors in Miami–Dade County, Florida, with a simple premise: Rather than continue to allow individuals with long histories of addiction and crime to cycle through the justice system at great expense to the public, use the leverage of the court to keep them engaged in treatment long enough to be successful. Today, drug courts and other treatment courts have proven that a combination of accountability and compassion saves lives while also saving valuable resources and reducing exorbitant criminal justice costs.
There are thousands of individual stories that demonstrate why treatment courts are so critical in the effort to address addiction and related crime. And the scientific research agrees: Numerous studies have found that treatment courts reduce crime and drug use and save money. Treatment courts significantly improve substance use disorder treatment outcomes, substantially reduce addiction and related crime, and do so at less expense than any other criminal justice strategy. The National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) reports that, on average, treatment courts save $6,000 for every individual they serve. Beyond the financial benefits, research shows that treatment courts also improve education, employment, housing, and financial stability; promote family reunification; reduce foster care placements; and increase the rate of addicted mothers delivering babies who are fully drug free.
Treatment courts represent a compassionate approach to the devastation of addiction, bringing together public safety and public health professionals in communitywide partnerships. This year’s National Drug Court Month celebration is a time to acknowledge and appreciate the societal and economic benefits of treatment courts, which are now recognized as the most successful justice system intervention in our nation’s history.
COSSAP is honored to join the NADCP in celebrating National Drug Court Month and more than 30 years of treatment courts. To date, the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s COSSAP has funded more than 70 site-based projects with drug court or problem-solving court affiliations.
Through this opportunity, the Bureau of Justice Assistance is seeking applications to plan, implement, and enhance drug court services, including service coordination, management of drug court participants, and recovery support services. Adult drug courts effectively integrate evidence-based substance use disorder treatment, mandatory drug testing, incentives and sanctions, and transitional services in judicially supervised criminal court settings that have jurisdiction over persons with great substance use disorder treatment needs in order to reduce recidivism and increase their access to treatment and recovery support, and to prevent overdoses. View the solicitation at https://bja.ojp.gov/funding/O-BJA-2022-171041.pdf.