Report finds drug courts number 3,000 nationwide

The number of drug courts operating in the United States is 3,057, a 24 percent increase in the last five years, according to the National Association of Drug Court Professionals.

The group released a report Tuesday detailing the expansion of drug courts and other treatment court models, including DWI courts and veterans courts. The report, “Painting the Current Picture: A national Report on Drug Courts and Other Problem-Solving Courts in the United States,” is based on a 2014 survey of state and territorial problem-solving court officials.  

Some key findings from the report include:
-    Seventy-four percent of survey respondents reported recent increases in abuse of pharmaceutical medications by drug court and other treatment court participants.
-    Drug courts served more than 127,000 individuals in 2014.
-    The average graduation rate in drug court in 2014 was 59 percent.

The report also found representation of African-American and Hispanic participants in some drug courts was lower than for the arrestee, probation and incarcerated populations. NADCP says its best practice standards place an obligation on drug courts to monitor for racial and ethnic disparities.

The report states Indiana had 63 drug courts as of Dec. 31, 2014, which included family and juvenile drug courts. According to the Indiana Judicial Center’s 2015 staff agency report, there were 55 courts as of the end of 2015. The Indiana Judicial Center is responsible for the certification, training and support of court alcohol and drug programs. The number will decrease again this year, as Vigo County Drug Court will close this year due to lack of funding.

“This report demonstrates that drug courts and other treatment courts are expanding evidence-based criminal justice reform nationwide,” said Carson Fox, a co-author of the report and chief executive officer of NADCP. “There is still a tremendous need for resources to expand these life-saving programs to serve more individuals in crisis. We found that when we talk to drug courts they say the main challenges they face are insufficient funding and lack of resources for treatment or supervision, not an absence of community need or judicial interest.”

The report is available on NADCP's website

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