NIJ: Re-Entry Courts Focus on Drug Treatment and Services


The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) recently released its first of three evaluations of several federally funded adult re-entry courts.

Reentry courts are “specialized courts that help reduce recidivism and improve public safety through the use of judicial oversight to apply graduated sanctions and positive reinforcement, to marshal resources to support the prisoner's reintegration, and to promote positive behavior by the returning prisoners,” according to the Bureau of Justice Assistance.

NIJ examined eight fledgling programs around the country, documenting implementation barriers, as well as policies, practices and community response. Although they are in a diverse set of locations, the NIJ study notes several commonalities among the courts, including: emphasis on post-release services, substance abuse treatment, the use of court hearings for monitoring participant progress, drug testing and a team approach to decisions on sanctions and rewards.

The study noted differences in court policies regarding program size, whether participation is mandatory or voluntary and target population. Two courts focus on mentally ill and chemical dependent defendants, others focus on male defendants and several exclude sex offenders or defendants with serious mental health issues.

The next two NIJ reports on adult re-entry courts will focus on impact, costs and benefits of the programs.

Read the report HERE.

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