Drug of July 2009, there were 2,361Drug of July 2009, there were 2,361

Drug courts are
specialized court dockets that generally target nonviolent offenders with
substance-abuse problems (Franco, 2010; p.1). These programs provide offenders
with rigorous court supervision, drug testing, substance-abuse treatment, and
other social services as an alternative to incarceration (Franco, 2010; p.1).
Drug courts are designed to break the cycle of substance abuse, addiction, and
crime by changing the behavior of substance-abusing offenders (Franco, 2010;
p.1). Drug courts encourage participants’ compliance and impose sanctions on
those who fail to comply with the program’s requirements (Franco, 2010;
p.1).  Drug courts are widely considered
an important strategy for reducing incarceration, providing drug treatment, and
reducing drug use and recidivism among nonviolent offenders (Franco, 2010;
p.1). The first drug court was created in 1989, since then, drug court programs
have been adopted by communities and states across the country (Franco, 2010;
p.4).  As of July 2009, there were 2,361
drug courts in action across the United States (Franco, 2010; p.5). Although
there are drug courts in many jurisdictions, it is unclear how many
drug-abusing offenders participate in these programs. (Franco, 2010; p.7).
There are many types of drug courts. They include adult, juvenile, family,
veterans, DWI (driving while intoxicated), tribal, co-occurring, and re-entry
(National Institute of Justice). As of June 2015, the estimated number of drug
courts operating in the U.S. is over 3,000 (National Institute of Justice). The
majority target adults, including DWI (driving while intoxicated) offenders and
a growing number of Veterans (National Institute of Justice).

What is the process of a
drug court? According to Leahy (2016), drug courts come in two variations,
which are the prosecution model and post-adjudication model (Leahy, 2016). The
first model, the prosecution model, defendants are sent to a rehab program or
are given a set of guidelines before they are prosecuted (Leahy, 2016). If they
complete their program the charges are dropped (Leahy, 2016). The other model,
the post-adjudication model requires that the defendants plead guilty to the
charges and are then sent to a drug court program (Leahy, 2016). If they are
successful in finishing the program then the sentence will be waived, and the
record erased (Leahy, 2016). This may not seem like a difference, but after a
drug program is finished, the defendant avoids jail time in both cases (Leahy,
2016). It is a very important difference for defendants who do not complete
their programs (Leahy, 2016). This is because in a deferred prosecution model
the defendant goes back to the beginning of the process and still retains their
right to plea bargain or plead not guilty and receive a jury trial (Leahy,
2016). For defendants with a weak case against them, that can be very important
(Leahy, 2016). The defendant in a post-adjudication model drug court goes
straight to the sentencing phase of their trial because to get in the program a
defendant must first plead guilty (Leahy, 2016).

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How effective are drug
courts? According to Huddleston (2009), drug courts greatly reduce drug abuse
and crime and do it in a least expensive way than any other strategy. Drug
courts are not for the first time offender (Huddleston, 2009). Those people
will do just as well by redirecting them to a disposition that leads to record
removal upon completion of the court conditions and guidelines (Huddleston,
2009). Drug courts focus on offenders those who have the highest need for
treatment, and who have the highest risk of failing out of those services
without some sort of support and structure (Huddleston, 2009). Huddleston
(2009) continues to say that research shows, that in the United States, 70% of
the 120,000 addicted people who voluntarily enter drug court with the help of
their defense attorney complete the program in a year or more later and 75% of
them do not get arrested again. A drug court member is twice as likely to stay
clean and remain free of arrest as a newly released state inmate (Huddleston,
2009). Research also says that drug courts reduce drug abuse and improve
employment and family functioning (Huddleston, 2009).

According to Huddleston
(2009), drug courts are not available to everyone who needs them. About half
of  United States counties do not have a
drug court and the drug courts that are existence, only have the capacity to
serve about ten percent of the serious drug-abusing and addicted offenders
estimated to be in need (Huddleston, 2009). The state of New York has applied a
drug court in every single county in the state (Huddleston, 2009). In a
three-year study, the New York State Court System estimates that about $254
million in incarceration costs were saved by redirecting 18,000 drug offenders
into drug courts (Huddleston, 2009). It has been fifteen-years as of 2009 since
drug courts have been in operation in New York says Huddleston (2009). New York
has seen a great amount of reductions in crime (Huddleston, 2009). And through
the first half of 2009, crime has decreased to another five percent
(Huddleston, 2009). According to a Northwestern University report, options to
incarceration like drug courts could lead to the closing of four prisons in New
York (Huddleston, 2009). Many states such as Alabama, Missouri, New Jersey and
Texas, are looking into investing in more drug courts (Huddleston, 2009).

Freeman-Wilson, Herriott,
Prather, and Weinstein (2003) say that research indicates that drug court is a
cost-effective way to handle substance abuse offenders. Drug courts save money
for jail costs (Freeman-Wilson et al., 2003). There are also a great amount of
cost savings in probation, supervision, police overtime and other criminal
justice costs (Freeman-Wilson et al., 2003). For example, in Washington, DC,
one year of drug court costs are between $1,800 to $4,400 for a single person
(Freeman-Wilson et al., 2003). Compared to between $20,000 to $30,000 per year
for an offender in jail (Freeman-Wilson et al., 2003). In the state of
California, cost effectiveness assessed in terms of incarceration costs, fees,
or fines paid by the drug court participants, concluded that the California
drug courts have saved $43 million (Freeman-Wilson et al., 2003). A total of
425,014 jail days were avoided, with a cost of approximately $26 million, and a
total of 227,894 days were avoided, with a cost of approximately $16 million
(Freeman-Wilson et al., 2003). According to the Drug Court Clearinghouse at
American University, savings in jail days alone have been estimated by some programs
to be at least $5,000 per person (Freeman-Wilson et al., 2003). Also,
Freeman-Wilson et al. (2003) say that a percent of drug court treatment
providers report that the yearly cost of treatment services per person ranges
from between $900 to $3,500 (Freeman-Wilson et al., 2003). The average yearly
cost per defendant for treatment services is greatly lower than the $20,000
minimum annual cost of incarceration (Freeman-Wilson et al., 2003). Prosecutors
have been reporting that the drug court programs have decreased police
overtime, witness costs, and grand jury expenses for those jurisdictions with
an indictment process, that would on the other hand be required if the cases
continued in the common manner (Freeman-Wilson et al., 2003). Most drug court
programs also report that a huge percent of participants who came into the
program without a job and on public assistance, have found a job while in the
program and are now supporting for themselves (Freeman-Wilson et al., 2003).
Many people who are employed at the time of entering a drug court program can
keep their employment (Freeman-Wilson et al., 2003).

Other than being cost
effective, drug court programs are helping law enforcement with caseloads,
which means that law enforcement agencies are being more efficient, according
to San Mateo Court. Law enforcement staff and services, which had been preoccupied
by the less serious drug case that took a considerable amount of time to
complete now, can now set their sights to more serious cases and to serious
offenders out there who are a greater risk to the community (San Mateo Court).
Some prosecutors and defense counsel say that they have saved up so much time
in preparation of cases and court appearances because of the drug court
programs that it is identical to one or more attorney positions (San Mateo
Court). The caseloads affected by the drug court judges have also allowed time
of other judges to be made available for other criminal and civil, which in
many jurisdictions, have been referred to secondary priority because of the
drug caseload (San Mateo Court). The jail spaces in certain jurisdictions that
have been freed up, is now being used to house more serious offenders, which
makes it easier to accomplish that they serve their full sentences (San Mateo
Court).

According to
Freeman-Wilson et al. (2003) drug courts show drug-addicted offenders that they
can live clean and sober lives. Overall, drug court graduates re-offend less,
spend less time in prison and are more likely to complete treatment than other
types of offenders (Freeman-Wilson et al., 2003). Many programs, such as the
drug court in Sikeston, Missouri, mandate that offenders get jobs and complete
their GEDs before graduation (Freeman-Wilson et al., 2003). Participants in
Brunswick, Georgia, are required to articulate their future goals as a part of
their treatment management (Freeman-Wilson et al., 2003). Before they are
released, participants in a re-entry program in Farmington, Utah must secure
jobs and a safe place to live (Freeman-Wilson et al., 2003). Drug court
graduates re-enter the community as employees, consumers and taxpayers
(Freeman-Wilson et al., 2003). They develop significant relationships,
reconnect with their families and generally, become contributing members of
society (Freeman-Wilson et al., 2003). Drug courts provide more extensive supervision
and much more numerous drug testing and monitoring during the program than
other forms of community supervision (Freeman-Wilson et al., 2003). In
addition, drug use and criminal behavior are substantially reduced while
offenders are participating in drug court (Freeman-Wilson et al., 2003).

According to The Marietta
Times (2016), Washington County, Ohio had a drug court from 2004 to 2008 before
funds were withdrawn and the drug court dissolved. Washington County Common
Pleas Judge Ed Lane said that “We had a drug court before and had very good
response when it was funded by the federal government, and it made a world of
difference” (The Marietta Times, 2016). Judge Lane, along with Marietta
Municipal Court Judge Janet Dyar Welch, jointly applied for a grant in 2012
through the U.S. Department of Justice that would bring a special drug court
docket back to the system but did not receive the grant (The Marietta Times,
2016). “We were going to run two for the cost of one,” Lane said (The Marietta
Times, 2016). “We were given all kinds of good feedback, but we were never told
why we couldn’t receive a grant to bring it back. I made calls trying to find
out why and didn’t get answers.” (The Marietta Times, 2016).

People convicted of drug
offenses make up the largest percentage of the prison population in Ohio, and
in the nation as a whole (The Marietta Times, 2016). In Ohio, 27% of the prison
population is incarcerated for a drug offense (The Marietta Times, 2016). The
Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Correction’s annual report for 2015
states 5,329 out of 19,755 inmates are committed to prison for drug offenses
(The Marietta Times, 2016). This number does not include those inmates who are
committed to prison for other crimes that they committed while under the
influence of drugs or while seeking the money to sustain a drug habit (The
Marietta Times, 2016). Drug courts must be certified by the Ohio Supreme Court
(The Marietta Times, 2016).  There are
currently 91 drug courts in Ohio. Six are under initial review, six have
received initial certification, and 79 are certified (The Marietta Times,
2016).