Drug courts save California $18 million each year and dramatically cut repeat criminality, says a committee of the state’s judicial leaders. With the courts’ future clouded by the state budget crisis, judges hope that the report will boost chances that the popular program in 157 courthouses will be spared, the Los Angeles Times reports. Gov. Gray Davis is seeking to have the courts funded by counties–a budget source the judges say is unstable. The state now provides about $12 million each year to 47 counties to run drug courts, which handled about 16,000 offenders statewide last year, according to the Judicial Council, a policymaking arm of the state Supreme Court. Drug court participants are subject to drug testing and frequent reviews; judges have wide discretion to punish those who relapse.
The recidivism rate for drug-addicted criminals is about 80% to 85%, said Butte County Superior Court Judge Darrell Stevens, chairman of the Judicial Council committee that presented the report. But only 12% to 17% of drug court participants relapsed.