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.” 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.