Local governments can invest in this strategy using State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
- This strategy can help prevent violence. The U.S. Department of Treasury has indicated that strategies that help achieve this outcome are eligible for the use of Fiscal Recovery Funds.
- Investments in this strategy are SLFRF-eligible as long as they are made in qualified census tracts or are designed to assist populations or communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
- 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
Evidence and impacts
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
- Reduced adult and juvenile recidivism
- Reduced drug use
- Reduced incarceration
Best practices in 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.
County Health Rankings and Roadmaps evidence overview of drug courts Shaffer, "Looking Inside the Black Box of Drug Courts: A Meta-Analytic Review," Justice Quarterly, 2011 Stein, Deberard, and Homan, "Predicting success and failure in juvenile drug treatment court: A meta-analytic review," Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 2013 U.S. Department of Justice: "Drug Courts: Training and Technical Assistance"