FAQ

What is a Drug Court?
What do Drug Courts do?
How do Drug Courts work?
What is the history of Drug Courts?
Who is eligible for Drug Court?
What are Drug Court team members’ roles and responsibilities?
How to Speak Drug Court

What is a Drug Court?

A Drug Court is a type of Problem-Solving Court that supports substance-abusing individuals who come in contact with the Criminal Justice System.  Team members may consist of Judges, Prosecutors, Defense Attorneys, Law Enforcement, Probation & Parole Officers, Social Services, and Treatment Providers. The team works together to assist each participant in breaking the cycle of addiction and the crimes that accompany it.  Drug Courts operate under a very specific model consisting of intensive judicial supervision, mandatory drug testing, escalating sanctions and incentives, and treatment.

National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) Resources

For More Information…

What do Drug Courts do?

Drug Courts are the most effective justice intervention for treating drug-addicted people. Drug Courts reduce drug use. Drug Courts reduce crime. Drug Courts save money. Drug Courts restore lives. Drug Courts save children and reunite families.

How do Drug Courts work?

Eligible drug-addicted persons may be sent to Drug Court in lieu of traditional justice system case processing. Drug Courts keep individuals in treatment long enough for it to work, while supervising them closely. For a minimum term of one year, participants are:

  • provided with intensive treatment and other services they require to get and stay clean and sober;
  • held accountable by the Drug Court judge for meeting their obligations to the court, society, themselves and their families;
  • regularly and randomly tested for drug use;
  • required to appear in court frequently so that the judge may review their progress; and
  • rewarded for doing well or sanctioned when they do not live up to their obligations.

What is the history of Drug Courts?

Miami-Dade County in Florida started the first treatment court in 1989 in response to the increasing numbers of drug-addicted offenders entering the criminal justice system.  As drug courts have expanded across the United States and other countries, this concept was expanded to address both adult and juvenile offenders, high risk repeat DUI offenders, the chronically mentally ill, veterans and other struggling populations of offenders.

Who is eligible for Drug Court?

Eligibility for Drug Court varies according to state and local guidelines, and on the type of Drug Court model (For example, currently most Drug Courts in the nation are adult criminal Drug Courts, which, along with DWI Courts, function within the adult criminal justice system and target adult offenders. Family Drug Court participants, however, are parents facing child abuse/neglect charges in civil court. For more information, see Drug Court Models).

Although eligibility guidelines vary, most Drug Courts do not consider violent offenders. Adult criminal Drug Courts usually consider both drug and drug-driven offenses. And where offenses involve victims, the consent of the victim and payment of restitution is typically mandatory. (If you wish to find more information on a specific court’s eligibility guidelines, see the PA Court Map for contact information on the court.)

What are Drug Court team members’ roles and responsibilities?

Click to downloaDrug Court Roles & Responsibilities Handout.

How to Speak Drug Court

Click to download “How to Speak Drug Court” Handout.

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