Office of National Drug Control Policy

ONDCP Excel Forty-Seventh Row

Action Item Number: 
Action Item Name: 
Support Drug and Other Problem-Solving Courts
Action Item Description: 

In recognition of the links between substance use and crime, substance abuse treatment for offenders has been part of the National Drug Control Strategy for many years as a combined effort to reduce threats to both public health and public safety.

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One widely researched and adopted example of this combined approach is the drug court model, which promotes collaboration among the judiciary, community corrections agencies, drug treatment providers, and other community support groups in order to meet the public health and safety needs of both the community and the drug-involved offenders. Many evaluations have shown these courts are cost-effective alternatives to traditional incarceration, and can simultaneously prevent many offenders from committing new crimes and from returning to drug use. Drug courts should now concentrate efforts on how to increase their impact on prison-bound offenders, focusing on offenders at the highest risk for continuing substance abuse and criminal activity. In addition to drug courts, community courts are another type of problem-solving court and can effectively serve the needs of lower-level drug-using offenders. Community courts are neighborhood-focused courts that address local problems, including drug possession, shoplifting, vandalism, and assault, most of which are misdemeanor offenses. Like drug courts, community courts link addicted offenders to judicially monitored drug treatment, but they are unique in that they make use of a broader array of mandates (including job training and community restitution).  These courts strive to create new relationships with neighborhood stakeholders such as residents, merchants, churches, and schools, and they test new and aggressive approaches to public safety, rather than only responding to crime after it has occurred. The Administration supports locally driven drug and community courts and will continue to identify ways to ensure the appropriate court is matched with the right offenders.

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