Spokane County's Drug Court
puts drug-addicted criminal offenders through a yearlong march of treatment and intensive oversight in exchange for a dismissal of their charges. The court is driving down the recidivism rate and saving money - and should be expanded, according to the Spokane Regional Criminal Justice Commission. Spokane's Drug Court was established
in 1996, the first local example of a "problem-solving court," which attempts to combine intense oversight, treatment and services to help nonviolent offenders change their lives. In Drug Court,
felony offenders whose crimes are connected to their addictions can qualify, if they agree to the terms.
This is a hard-on-crime approach
- Participants are drug-tested regularly and must attend treatment and check in at court frequently.
- If they miss appointments, they are sanctioned with community service, and the court tailors their conditions - from sanctions to incentives to their treatment plan - based on their progress. Participants are not kicked out if they fall off the wagon, so long as they stick with the program and keep being tested.
- Before they graduate they must accumulate at least 4 months of clean tests, which is a difficult road full of setbacks for many.
- or hard on addicts. However, from the judge to the attorneys to the therapists, there is a steady stream of support and encouragement. ("County's Drug Court saving money, lives - Closing the revolving door, opening new ones," Shawn Vestal, The Spokesman-Review,
April 25, 2014)
- Spokane's Drug Court handles around 200 cases yearly.
Drug Court has tracked the recidivism rate among its population, and the results are dramatic, according to statistics compiled by the court. From 2007 to 2011, the recidivism rate among those who graduated was 11% in the 2 years after Drug Court, compared to 52% among those who qualified for the program but did not enter.
Drug Court graduates spent a total of 5,211 days in jail in the 2 years before entering the program, and that figure plummeted by 84% in the 2 years after. Even those who fail to complete the program showed improvement: The recidivism rate among those who quit the program was 36%, and the number of days spent in jail was much lower than those who qualified but did not enter.
The Washington State Institute for Public Policy has calculated that every dollar spent in the types of treatment offered in drug court return more than $40 in savings, in everything from crime to education to social services. ("County's Drug Court saving money, lives, Closing the revolving door, opening new ones," Shawn Vestal, The Spokesman-Review, April 25, 2014)
Spokane County Drug Court
North East Washington Treatment Alternatives (NEWTA)
1224 N. Ash St
Spokane, WA 99201
Phone and Office Hours: M-F 9:30 am - 6:00 pm (closed Saturday and Sunday)
unique court that provides an alternative to traditional prosecution.
It addresses crimes committed by non-violent, substance dependent
individuals. Instead of a trial and incarceration, clients will enter a
pre-release program, which provides education, treatment and
supervision. This includes frequent drug testing, alcohol/dug
treatment, and counseling. If a client successfully completes the
treatment program, the charges will be dismissed. More importantly,
they will gain the necessary tools to rebuild their life.