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Drug courts: Background, effectiveness, and policy issues for Congress.

Franco, Celinda
June 4, 2015

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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