Drug courts for adult suspects have been successful in reducing crime by defendants receiving treatment, says a leading researcher. The offense level is 15 to 20 percent lower for drug court participants compared with defendants in more traditional courts, John Roman of the Washington, D.C.-based Urban Institute said yesterday at an institute panel discussion. There are about 1,500 such courts around the nation, but they handle fewer than one in two drug-involved offenders. Both President Bush and key members of Congress support federal funding to help establish drug courts–rare agreement on a criminal justice funding issue–said Marcia Lee, a Senate Judiciary Committee staff member.
While drug courts report success, the picture is less clear for other “problem-solving” courts, speakers agreed. Roman and criminologist Peter Reuter of the University of Maryland agreed that evaluation results for juvenile drug courts were less promising than are those for adults. Meanwhile, specialized courts are operating or in the planning stages on subjects including mental health and domestic violence, said Greg Berman of the New York City-based Center for Court Innovation. A special court has even been suggested to handle only bad-check cases. Roman cautioned that setting up such a tribunal might be dubious because “we don’t know anything about the pathology of bad-check fraud.”