Why

What

Who

Half of state and federal prisoners meet the criteria for drug dependence, and 95% will return to alcohol and drug use after release from prison. Drug courts can keep these people out of the prison system and reduce their chances of re-offending.

A court created to work with nonviolent offenders who are primarily involved with the criminal justice system due to drug use or addiction. Participants must complete a drug treatment program with regular drug testing. Successful completion of the program results in charges being dropped.

Our model assumes either a 12 or 18 month program depending on the standard in drug courts in the state. We assume that only non-violent offenders will be eligible, but not that eligibility will be restricted to first-time offenders. We assume that participants who fail out of the program will not receive prison sentences that are longer than what they would have been able to obtain in a plea deal in lieu of the program. Finally, we assume that participants will generally be allowed to graduate in the length of time prescribed by the program.

Nonviolent juvenile offenders who are either arrested for drug possession, or who have committed crimes primarily due to their drug addiction.

For an $8 million investment over 2 years to provide the Drug Court program to 1,100 non-violent offenders with a drug addiction, and ongoing drug treatment for 517 program graduates:

We use a variety of data sources to tailor our analysis to the location and to make our estimates as accurate as possible. However, sometimes data is unavailable, either because it has not been collected, or because it is not shared publicly. We encourage government agencies and other organizations to share their de-identified data online and researchers to prioritize the following gaps in the data. 

Program Eligibility: At the aggregate level, it is not clear exactly how many arrestees have both a drug addiction problem and no violent offenses in their criminal record. We estimate the number of eligible arrestees based on percentages drawn from academic literature and publicly available data.