Drug courts are designed to guide offenders struggling with substance abuse into treatment with the goal of reducing their drug dependence and improving their quality of life. Benefits to society include substantial reductions in crime, ultimately resulting in reduced costs to taxpayers and increased public safety.
The Benton County Adult Drug Treatment Court (BCADTC) was implemented in November 2001. This 12-month program takes post-plea/post-adjudication and post-conviction participants. The program population consists of misdemeanor and felony offenders with drug possession, driving under the influence, forgery, and property offense charges. The purpose of this research was to establish whether the BCADTC had the basic components needed to implement an effective drug treatment court. The assessment process examined the extent to which the program was implementing the 10 Key Components of drug courts and the best practices that research indicates are related to positive outcomes.
PRIMARY RESEARCH QUESTION(S)
- Does participation in the BCADTC reduce the number of re-arrests for those individuals compared to traditional court processing?
- What is the cost impact on the criminal justice system of sending offenders through drug treatment court compared to traditional court processing? More specifically, does the BCADTC save money?
The outcome analyses were based on a cohort of BCADTC participants who entered the drug treatment court program from January 2002 through July 2007, and a matched comparison group of offenders eligible for drug treatment court but who received the traditional court process.
The authors did not cite any limitations to this study.
As a whole, the results of the outcome analysis for the Benton County Adult Drug Treatment Court were positive. Compared to offenders who experienced traditional court processes, the BCADTC participants (regardless of whether they graduated from the program):
In three years after drug treatment court entry:
- Had three times fewer drug charges,
- Had half as many person charges,
- Had half as many felony charges, and
- Had 27 percent fewer property charges,
- Were significantly less likely to be rearrested for any charge within three years after program entry, and
- Had significantly fewer rearrests for drug charges every year for five years after program entry (indicating reductions in drug use).
Cost Savings: Although the Benton County Adult Drug Treatment Court is a substantial taxpayer investment, over time it results in significant cost savings and a return on its investment. The program investment cost is $15,915 per drug treatment court participant. Over three years, the drug treatment court resulted in $14,331 in cost savings due to significantly reduced recidivism rates. Projected for five years, the savings come to $23,885 per participant.
As the existence of the BCADTC continues, the savings generated by drug treatment court participants due to reduced substance use and decreased criminal activity can be expected to continue to accrue, repaying investment in the program and beyond. Taken together these findings indicate that the BCADTC is both beneficial to participants and beneficial to Oregon taxpayers. These results demonstrate that the BCADTC program is effective in reducing recidivism and reducing drug use while using fewer criminal justice system resources during program participation.
Waller, M. S., Carey, S. M., NPC Research, Inc., & United States of America. (2011). Oregon Drug Courts-Benton County Adult Drug Treatment Court: Process, Outcome, and Cost Evaluation, Final Report.