Source: (2010) CRS Report for Congress. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service.

Drug courts are specialized court dockets, or portions of judges’ calendars of cases, that generally target nonviolent offenders with substance-abuse problems. These programs provide offenders with intensive court supervision, mandatory drug testing, substance-abuse treatment, and other social services as an alternative to adjudication or incarceration. In this way, drug courts are designed to break the cycle of substance abuse, addiction, and crime by changing the behavior of substance-abusing offenders. Participation in these programs is voluntary. Eligible defendants must agree to the program’s requirements and successfully complete the program in exchange for avoiding incarceration, having their criminal charges reduced or dismissed, or having their sentences reduced. Drug courts encourage participants’ compliance and impose sanctions on those who fail to comply with the program’s requirements. Drug courts are widely considered an important strategy for reducing incarceration, providing drug treatment, and reducing drug use and recidivism (reoffending) among nonviolent offenders. (author's abstract)

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