Drug Courts

Research to Practice Initiative

The Adult Drug Court Research to Practice Initiative promotes the dissemination of emerging research on drug courts.

Drug courts are specialized court docket programs that target criminal defendants and offenders, juvenile offenders, and parents with pending child welfare cases who have alcohol and other drug dependency problems.

As of June 2014, the estimated number of drug courts operating in the U.S. is over 3400. More than half target adults, including DWI (driving while intoxicated) offenders and a growing number of Veterans; others address juvenile, child welfare, and different case types.[1]

Adult Drug Court Locations in the United States
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Number and Types of Drug Courts
(As of June 2014)[1]
Type of Drug CourtNumber
Adult Drug Courts1,538
Adult Drug/DWI448
Juvenile Drug Courts433
Family303
DWI242
Veterans220
Tribal119
Co-Occurring36
Reentry36
Federal Drug29
Campus6
Federal Veterans6
Total 3416

Find a drug court using the National Drug Court Resource Center's database Exit Notice.

The Drug Court Model

Although drug courts vary in target population, program design, and service resources, they are generally based on a comprehensive model involving:

  • Offender screening and assessment of risks, needs, and responsivity.
  • Judicial interaction.
  • Monitoring (e.g., drug testing) and supervision.
  • Graduated sanctions and incentives.
  • Treatment and rehabilitation services.

Drug courts are usually managed by a nonadversarial and multidisciplinary team including judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, community corrections, social workers and treatment service professionals. Support from stakeholders representing law enforcement, the family and the community is encouraged through participation in hearings, programming and events like graduation.

For information on evidence based practices, visit the BJA-NIJ Adult Drug Court Research to Practice (R2P) Initiative

Also see NIJ's webpage on Drug Court Performance Measures, Program Evaluation and Cost Efficiency

For information on training and technical assistance resources:

Notes

[1] Counts and map of drug court programs provided by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals. 

Date Modified: March 16, 2015