When it comes to drug addiction, research indicates that incarceration is not an effective deterrent. The National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) cites statistics that hold that 95% of those released will experience relapses. Yet, that does not mean the legal system has no place in combating our collective drug problem. Quite the contrary, drug courts, which combine treatment with enforcement and accountability, are proving their worth at counteracting this epidemic. The Department of Health and Human Services is offering Grants to Expand Substance Abuse Treatment Capacity in Adult Treatment Drug Courts and Adult Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts to give more people a chance to benefit by this promising model.
The ATDC Program
The purpose of this program is to expand the multisystem drug treatment court model in existing adult treatment drug courts and adult tribal healing or wellness courts. Funds must primarily used to support direct services, including:
- Screening and assessing clients for substance use disorders and/or co-occurring mental disorders and appropriate treatments.
- Providing comprehensive evidence-based treatment approaches to meet the unique needs of diverse populations at risk.
- Providing "wraparound"/recovery support services to improve access and retention.
- Collaborating with community partners to provide comprehensive services.
Eligible activities may include:
- Medication-assisted treatment (MAT), including purchase of Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved medications such as methadone, buprenorphine, naltrexone, disulfiram, acamprosate, and calcium, when the client is unable to to purchase these on their own.
- HIV rapid preliminary antibody testing and/or testing for viral hepatitis (B and C).
- Recovery services, including peer support and housing.
- Tobacco cessation programs.
- Infrastructure development such as partnerships for service delivery, computer systems, records/documentation, and/or training/workforce development.
All projects must propose to increase access and availability of services to a large number of clients and use funds to serve those that lack adequate access to health care. Applicants are also encouraged to prioritize veterans.
The Impact of Drug Courts
Drug courts offer an alternative paradigm to simply locking up offenders. Instead, they enable judges, defense attorneys, prosecutors, clinical professionals, other community partners, and participants themselves to work together to holistically address the multifaceted components of chemical dependency. Since the first one was implemented in Miami in 1989, social scientists have been studying their effectiveness. The National Association of Drug Court Professionals, a nonprofit founded by personnel from many of the original drug courts, has gathered some of this research on their website. According to NADCP:
- 75% of graduates avoid arrest for at least two years after they finish their program.
- Meta-analysis of many different scientific studies have concluded drug courts reduce crime up to 45% more than more traditional sentences.
- For every $1.00 invested in drug courts, U.S. taxpayers save as much as $3.36 in criminal justice costs. The savings per client are estimated between $3,000 to $13,000 per client.
- Without supervision, 70% of addicted patients drop out of drug rehabilitation programs while those in drug courts are six times more to stay long enough for treatment to become effective.
- Children of parents in family drug courts spend less time in foster care, and family re-unification rates are 50% higher.
Applying to the Program
Eligible applicants are Native American tribes and tribal organizations, state and local governments, and consortia. Each applicant must include a provider organization for direct client services, and each fully licensed, accredited mental health/substance abuse treatment provider must have at least 2 years experience in the geographic area where services are to be provided. Apply by February 21, 2018.
Tribal Wellness Courts
For many indigenous communities, the concept behind drug courts is not new, but is compatible with traditional Native American philosophy on justice. The Tribal Law and Policy Institute has made available extensive resources for wellness courts. Learn more at the Tribal Court Clearninghouse page.
Media Resources from NADCP