Drug treatment courts contribute significantly to the rehabilitation of drug addicted offenders, the reduction in costs of incarceration and control of local crime, according to a study of the Organization of American States (OAS) produced by its Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) and a research team from American University in Washington, DC.
The report, based on a survey of 12 countries, is a first-ever publication of the experiences and results of this type of court, and has as an objective to promote cooperation, the exchange of information and best practices among the member states of the OAS and other countries.
The CICAD study titled, “Establishing Drug Treatment Courts: Strategies, Experiences and Preliminary Outcomes,” is based on a survey of drug treatment courts in 12 countries—Belgium, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Chile, United Kingdom, Ireland, Jamaica, Mexico, Norway, Suriname and the United States. The objective of drug treatment courts is to offer offenders who are addicted to drugs a structured program of treatment and rehabilitation as an alternative to incarceration.
Among the study’s most relevant results are the following:
• Drug treatment courts have helped reduce local crime
• There has been a significant reduction in recidivism among drug dependent offenders involved in drug treatment court programs
• Drug treatment courts have lowered costs for incarceration
• Participants in drug treatment programs are getting immediate help to control their addictions but also other services, such as health care, family support and housing
• Among the biggest challenges faced by drug treatment courts is obtaining and maintaining adequate resources
The complete report in English may be read here.
Overall, the report presents a positive picture of what drug treatment courts in the above-mentioned countries have accomplished in providing drug treatment to local populations and in addressing the social ills and costs of drug abuse and crime.
“We hope the publication of this first-ever compendium of experiences with drug courts in 12 different countries will encourage other countries to consider the feasibility and desirability of establishing drug courts,” said Anna Chisman, Head of Demand Reduction for the CICAD.
Caroline S. Cooper, Research Professor and Associate Director of the Justice Programs Office at the School of Public Affairs of American University, said, “this study is important because until now we had no real idea of what was going on, no way for countries to network with each other or see what common issues they had in their courts and how to address them.”
The CICAD, which is part of the OAS Secretariat for Multidimensional Security, was established by the General Assembly of the OAS in 1986 as the Western Hemisphere’s policy forum on all aspects of the drug problem. Its core mission is to enhance the human and institutional capacities of its member states to reduce the production, trafficking and use of illegal drugs, and to address the health, social and criminal consequences of the drug trade.
For more information, please visit the OAS Website at www.oas.org.