- Impose supervision, drug treatment and testing, and sanctions for (often specialized) groups drug offenders, rather than incarceration
- Can reduce recidivism and drug use and may also reduce incarceration
- Factors that contribute to program success include longer treatment periods, imposing restitution in lieu of fines, and focusing on nonviolent offenders
- More effective at reducing recidivism than probation for high-risk adult substance abusers
- Specific programs may target adults or juveniles
Strength of evidence
Evidence level: Strong (second-highest tier)
Strong (second-highest tier)
Ranked as having the highest level of evidence by County Health Rankings and Roadmaps; the second-highest level of evidence by the National Institute of Justice
$3,226 per participant
Outcomes and impact
- Reduced adult and juvenile recidivism
- Reduced drug use
- Reduced incarceration
Keys to successful implementation
- Note: This content is under review
- Limiting participation to nonviolent offenders, longer treatment periods, and weekly staff meetings are associated with better outcomes.
- Minorities, boys, and offenders with histories of emotional or behavioral problems are less likely to complete course of treatment from drug courts.
- Admitting participants promptly and prioritizing academic and job skills training lead to higher completion rates in juvenile courts.
- Federally-supported drug court training and assistance (e.g., the Drug Court Planning Initiative and the National Drug Court Resource Center) are provided through the Office of Justice Programs in the USDOJ.