Drug Treatment Court’s Effect on Recidivism Rates

By Makayla Hanington, CFCC Student Fellow 2014-2015

Drug treatment courts are a source of therapeutic jurisprudence as problem-solving courts. Their purpose is to resolve underlying issues that may be the source of crimes that are being committed with a holistic and big-picture approach. In Baltimore City, the Drug Treatment Court was created in 1994 due to a study relating 85% of crimes back to substance abuse and addiction. It is a way of preventing incarceration by providing an alternative. Four main goals of Baltimore City’s Drug Treatment Court are to:

  • Provide pretrial, drug-dependent detainees with close supervision
  • Allow judges to use a cost-effective sentencing option by providing a fully integrated and comprehensive treatment program
  • Reduce recidivism rates of street crime committed by drug-motivated offenders
  • Facilitate the academic, vocational, and prosocial skill development of offenders”

Because of the many actors involved in achieving these goals, the whole court system is essentially working together to reduce the overall recidivism rates, especially when substance driven crimes are being committed. The systems that are provided for offenders are supervision, status hearings through judicial monitoring, drug testing, and drug treatment. In order to graduate from the program, participants must have employment, completed 20 hours of community service, have participated in the program for a minimum of 12 months, and have at least 9 months of clean urine samples.”[2] Research has found that the offenders involved in drug treatment courts have a lower recidivism rate than those who are not. It has been generally proven that “[t]he average effect of participation is analogous to a drop in recidivism from 50% to 38%; and, these effects last up to three years.” Although by only about 10%, the re-arrest rates had decreased, but new arrests had significantly decreased. The Baltimore City Drug Treatment Court not only has the effect of reducing recidivism rates while a person is in the program, but also persists even after the program is completed. Drug treatment courts as a problem-solving court has proven to be successful and continues to be implemented.

[1] https://www.crimesolutions.gov/ProgramDetails
[2] https://www.crimesolutions.gov/ProgramDetails
[3] http://www.courtinnovation.org/sites/default/files/documents/Assessing_Efectiveness.pdf
[4] http://www.ccjs.umd.edu/sites/ccjs.umd.edu/files/pubs/Gottfredson_etal_2006.pdf

0 thoughts on “Drug Treatment Court’s Effect on Recidivism Rates

  1. I think that the drug treatment court was a great reaction to the increase of drug related crimes in Baltimore City. I am glad that this program was created as an alternative to incarceration because substance abuse is the cause for many of the crimes that are committed in Baltimore City. It seems that it would be nearly impossible to decrease the crime rate before first confronting the substance abuse. I think that there should be more alternatives to incarceration for many of the crimes that we have on the books in Baltimore City. It would be interesting to see if there are any alternative methods implemented for those convicted of violent crimes in the future. Thank you for choosing this topic to write on, I enjoyed your blog.

  2. Drug treatment courts are a step in the right direction in treating drug users. On the individual level, it seems to aim at solving the true problem, addiction, as opposed to simply masking the symptom by labeling abusers as criminals. On a larger scale, less people in prison have so many positive implications. One positive outcome, keeping families together, have a positive consequences not only on the individual abuser but also on the children and others related to the abuser. By stressing this approach on a national level I would not be surprised to see a sharp decline in our prison population overall and in a country with only 5 percent of the world's population but 25 percent of the world's population, we need all the improvement that we can muster.

  3. While I think the drug courts are a step in the right direction, I do believe that more needs to be done. I believe that felony forgiveness programs need to be implemented. Felons, even those that became felons due to drug-related crimes are unable to receive important benefits such as housing subsidies that they would otherwise be entitled to. With fewer job prospects thanks to the felony on their record, and no housing benefits, it becomes hard for individuals who were incarcerated to make a living once released. While drug treatment courts are a step in the right direction, I believe they need to be accompanied by felony forgiveness programs in an effort to alleviate the stresses felt by newly released inmates.

  4. I am absolutely in support of drug treatment courts. Some behavioral concerns are simply not remedied by punishment. I do not believe that anyone fully chooses to be addicted to drugs. It takes goodwill and determination to make those strides towards recovery and with a positive support system, as provided by these drug treatment courts, more folks can and will reach a healthy drug free lifestyle. Substance abuse plagues so many communities in our country but it causes unyielding damage to many of our poor communities. These drug treatment courts will not only help the individual, but also that individual's family, community, and ultimately the nation as a whole.

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