Drug Courts are a proven budget solution
April 14, 2011 (submitted)

by West Huddlseton, CEO National Association of Drug Court Professionals

After concluding their own “analysis of existing research”, Margaret Dooley-Sammuli and Nastassia Walsh question the efficacy of Drug Courts (Claims about drug courts aren’t supported by research, April 12, 2011). Unfortunately their analysis reflects a misinterpretation of research findings and, in the most egregious cases, all together excludes the most compelling data. Turns out, it’s their claims about Drug Courts which are not supported by the research.

More research has been published on Drug Courts than virtually all other criminal justice programs combined. In fact, most medications have less scientific evidence supporting their safety and benefit to the public.

Independent researchers from seven different academies have all concluded that Drug Courts reduce crime and save taxpayers a fortune. Drug Courts return to the community up to $27 for every $1. The vast majority of Drug Courts reduce crime up to 50%, unheard of in the criminal justice system, and the longest study to date shows these effects lasted an astounding 14 years. But these facts appear nowhere in the authors’ “analysis.”

Furthermore, the authors spuriously cite a Washington State Institute for Public Policy report as evidence that treatment administered through Drug Court is no more effective than treatment people receive in the community. Nothing could be further from the truth. That study actually concluded that treatment administered through Drug Courts was 8% more effective! Whether intentional or by accident, this type of misrepresentation of the science is what happens when non-researchers attempt to advance an agenda by analyzing published data.

For over two decades, Drug Courts have been an instrumental force for institutional change within the criminal justice system and lifestyle change for over a million drug addicted offenders. Given the incredible success of Georgia’s 68 Drug Courts and DWI Courts, we should focus on reaping the economic and societal benefits of expanding this proven budget solution.