Wednesday, January 7, 2009

More Court Appearances = More Success for High-Risk Drug Offenders

BCI's Drug Court Diversion Program clients took part in a research study which found that high risk offenders achieve better outcomes in treatment with more frequent court hearings. The article appears in the December issue of NIDA Notes.

A “high risk” offender is defined as one who has antisocial personality disorder or prior drug treatment, which makes them more likely to return to criminal behavior including drug abuse. A drug court program provides educational groups, drug testing, referrals, and support in meeting personal lifestyle goals in lieu of prosecution for a first time offense. It’s estimated that such programs save $1000 to $15,000 a year per client in judicial costs and financial loss to crime victims.

In the study, participants who were required to attend court for monitoring every two weeks had a higher rate of graduation from the treatment program, fewer days of drug use, and fewer days of alcohol intoxication than participants who were monitored every 4-6 weeks.

The study also found that low-risk offenders do just as well when their frequency of hearings is reduced. This means that drug court programs can shift their existing resources to increase the monitoring of those most at risk, and decrease it for those at low risk. The programs can thereby improve public safety without increasing costs.

Good news for drug court participants and for the public.

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