Drug courts appear to reduce recidivism and can be cost-effective, says a new Justice Department summary of research on the 17-year-old concept. The first drug court was established in Miami in 1989. The federal publication says that a drug court’s effectiveness may depend on how consistently its resources match the needs of drug court participants. On costs, the summary said that the Multnomah County, Or., drug court estimated an investment of $5,900 per participant and savings of $3,600.
Among other conclusions about drug courts: Interaction with a judge was found pivotal in keeping participants in the program. Treatment works best when it is based on proper assessment, service delivery, and monitoring. Effectiveness is weakened by approaches based on incompatible philosophies. Research about juvenile drug courts and treatment has not yet provided guidance on the most effective practices and policies for juvenile offenders, who usually have a wide range of needs and issues.