What Are Specialty Courts, and What Does That Mean for Drug/Alcohol Offenders?

Gavel statue for court

Giving someone a second chance can lead to them not committing the same crimes again.

The first specialty court model, drug courts, have a heightened focus on criminal adult offenders who are involved in cases with drugs or alcohol. Other court types, typically called problem-solving courts, use this drug court model to focus on other serious issues, such as mental health or domestic violence.

Specialty Courts Overview

Giving someone another chance is ultimately what specialty courts aim to do, with an effective, educational alternative rather than incarceration. These courts work to prevent an offender from repeating the same crimes with more intense supervision, focused treatment and rehabilitation services.

According to the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP), the different specialty courts include:

  • Adult Drug Court
  • Veterans’ Treatment
  • DWI
  • Family Dependency Treatment Court
  • Federal District Drug Court
  • Juvenile Drug Court
  • Reentry
  • Reentry Drug
  • Tribal Healing to Wellness
  • Back on TRAC: Treatment, Responsibility, Accountability on Campus (College Students)

Do Specialty Courts Work?

According to NADCP, specialty courts do change lives, with 75 percent of adult criminal drug court graduates not committing their crimes again. Drug courts specifically have been in effect for over 20 years. They focus on individuals in the criminal justice system who have an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol. Because its mission is about treatment rather than punishment, drug courts have been proven to reduce drug abuse and crime.

Specialty courts keep communities safe and helps families stay together. Currently, there are 2,734 specialty courts in the U.S. serving over 136,000 people. With a combination of rehabilitation, accountability and focused treatment, individuals have a chance to get back on track with their lives.

The proper tools can also help with addiction, such as Ignition Interlocks. An Ignition Interlock Device can detect someone’s breath alcohol content before they start their vehicle, and is often required if someone is convicted of a DUI. With the right tools and treatment, nothing stops someone from transforming their lives and getting back to a normal routine again.

Specialty Courts Series

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