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Drug Court Movement

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This paper outlines the elements that are crucial to the success of a drug court, identifies future needs of drug courts, and summarizes relevant research and evaluation sponsored by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ).
The drug-court approach has departed from the traditional court approach by systematically bringing drug treatment to the criminal justice population entering the court system. Treatment is anchored in the authority of the judge, who holds the defendant or offender personally and publicly accountable for treatment progress. Among the elements crucial to the success of a drug court are judicial commitment and leadership; collaboration among criminal justice agencies, courts, treatment agencies, and community organizations; education and training programs for judges, prosecutors, defenders, and other criminal justice practitioners in substance abuse, addictive behaviors, and treatment approaches; and a specifically defined target population that considers both drug involvement and public safety risk. Further, a drug court should rely on a custom-designed treatment program that addresses the specific treatment needs of the court's targeted population. Integrated information management should link the court with criminal justice and treatment agencies and provide adequate supervision for defendants/offenders. Needs confronting the drug court movement include funding and the defining of parameters and standards. The Crime Act of 1994 provides support for research and evaluation studies of drug courts. NIJ is responsible for the evaluation and research and will be soliciting proposals to conduct the studies in the near future. The report "Justice and Treatment Innovation: The Drug Court Movement," by John Goldkamp is recommended for presenting the findings of the first National Drug Court Conference.
Date Created: November 21, 2007