Drug Courts

Information on a New Approach to Address Drug-Related Crime Gao ID: GGD-95-159BR May 22, 1995

This briefing report examines a new approach used by state and local governments to address drug-related crime--drug courts, which monitor the treatment and the behavior of drug-using defendants. GAO gathered information on drug courts in existence before the awarding of grants under the 1994 Crime Act, assessed evaluations of these courts, and reviewed the Justice Department's responsibilities and plans for implementing the federal drug court grant program.

GAO found that: (1) in exchange for reduced charges, drug using defendants can be diverted to drug courts where judges monitor their progress through frequent status hearings; (2) drug court programs vary in length, participant eligibility, funding, and other practices; (3) as of March 1995, there were at least 37 drug courts operating nationwide; (4) 33 drug courts have accepted over 20,000 defendants; (5) most drug courts do not accept violent offenders; (6) drug courts have not been operating long enough to determine their overall effectiveness; and (7) although the 1994 Crime Act authorized $1 billion to support drug court programs from fiscal year (FY) 1995 through FY 2000, Congress has proposed repealing the drug court grant program.

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