Do drug courts work?

If you are a Missouri resident who is dealing with drug and/or alcohol addiction and abuse, you may have heard about drug courts and are wondering what they are, how they work and if, in fact, they do work. The following information provided by the Missouri Recovery Network should ease your mind about this alternative to incarceration.

Missouri’s first drug court was established in Kansas City in 1993, and drug courts have since spread across the state. A drug court is a special local or county court that combines the criminal justice system, treatment programs and social service resources. If you are charged with a nonviolent drug offense, it undoubtedly will be to your advantage to participate in a drug court program rather than going through the regular court system.

Drug court procedures

Drug court programs usually last for at least 12 months and generally operate in phases. Initially the drug court judge will require you to do the following:

  • Undergo random drug testing
  • Enroll in a substance abuse program
  • Report to a case worker and/or probation officer each week
  • Begin working toward your GED if you are not a high school graduate
  • Receive mental health treatment if you need it
  • Receive job skills training

In addition, the judge will require you to make regular court appearances so he or she can monitor your progress. You also will be strongly encouraged to avail yourself of additional social services for which you qualify.

If all of this sounds like a rigorous and lengthy process, it is. However, you should ask yourself if you would prefer to be incarcerated. Keep in mind that the whole purpose of drug courts as originally conceived is to keep you and other drug offenders out of the overcrowded correctional system.

Drug court success

By compelling you and other drug offenders to do the things that are in your own best interests, drug courts have a remarkable success record. Not only do you have a much higher likelihood of becoming a drug-free productive citizen than you would have had you been incarcerated for your drug offense(s), Missouri saves substantial money in the process. While drug court programs cost about $3,000 per defendant per year, incarceration costs over $30,000. This is general information only and is not intended to provide legal advice.