On this page we present detailed results for our Drug Courts model in Los Angeles. You can find information about the following topics:

Pre-Intervention Demographics




Financial Savings

The most common drug of choice among drug court participants is marijuana, followed by opiates and heroin. 

Since the last time this data was published, prescription opioids have become more widely used, and may be underrepresented in this chart.

Nearly half of drug court participants are over 36 years of age. Another 32.5% are between 25 and 35. Just over 19% of participants are between 18 and 24. A tiny percentage of participants, 0.4%, are under 18.

Additionally, 70% of drug court participants are male.

67% of people arrested for drug crimes will be incarcerated for another crime within the next ten years. With the intervention, this decreases by 2,885 people.

Additionally, research indicates that drug court graduates who are re-arrested tend to commit less serious crimes and serve less time on average than drug addicts going through the standard criminal justice system.

14% of people arrested for drug crimes are parents. In most cases, the children of parents arrested for drug crimes will be placed outside of the home, either in foster care or with a relative. By keeping participants out of prison, drug courts can reduce the number of children removed from the home and help keep families together. With the intervention, we project that the number of children removed from their homes would fall by 15%.

Drug Courts have been proven to significantly reduce substance abuse in program graduates. 76% of drug addicts who go through the regular criminal justice system will fall back into a drug abuse habit after release. With the intervention, this falls by 15 percentage points, for a reduction of 4,692 people abusing illegal substances.

Because many drug court graduates are able to stay drug-free for years after graduating, the program will reduce the number of infants born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, a condition in which a baby is born with opiate withdrawal symptoms and requires a prolonged hospitalization. We project that 107 fewer babies would be born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome over five years.

55% of drug addicts also abuse alcohol, and many drug court graduates who remain drug-free after completing the program are also able to remain alcohol free. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome affects infants born to mothers who drink during pregnancy, most commonly to mothers who consume an average of four or more alcoholic beverages per day.

We project that in the absence of this intervention, there would be approximately 64 cases of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome over five years among infants born to women in the cohort. With the intervention, we project this would decrease to 47 cases.

People who have been incarcerated have much lower rates of employment than people who have never been incarcerated. With the intervention, we project that an additional 3,095 people would be employed over ten years, generating increased income taxes and sales taxes for the county and state.

The Drug Court program immediately generates financial savings due to averted incarceration for participants. Over the next ten years, it continues to generate savings due to reduced recidivism, fewer out of home placements, increased employment, and reduced infant health problems. Medi-Cal savings from decreased substance abuse persist for 20 years or longer.

Over 20 years, the program generates returns of $3.41 per dollar invested, using a 3% discount rate.

Sources of Financial Savings

By far the largest percentage of savings, 86.7%, comes from a reduction in incarceration. The next largest source of savings is reduced medical expenditures due to lower rates of substance abuse among program graduates. 

Reduced child protective services payments due to lower rates of out of home placement account for another 2.8% of savings.

Increased sales taxes and state income taxes generated by higher rates of employment among program graduates account for another 1% of total savings.

Finally, 0.7% of government savings come from reduced medical expenditures on infants born with health problems like neonatal abstinence syndrome and fetal alcohol syndrome.