The Importance of Drug Court Programs

The nature of addiction often leads to breaking the law, whether it’s driving after too many drinks, taking someone else’s prescription drugs, or using an illegal substance. Most of the time, those types of activities result in jail time or a prison sentence.

Sadly, people suffering from substance use disorders don’t typically get what they need while they’re incarcerated. Once they are free again, because they haven’t learned to manage their addiction, they return to their substance use, and a large percentage end up back in the criminal justice system in a short amount of time.

For more than 25 years, drug court programs have been working to break that cycle. And they do work. According to the National Institute of Justice, drug court programs lead to lower re-arrest rates and higher recovery rates.

Kitsap County Adult Drug Court

In Kitsap County, certain offenders may participate in the Adult Drug Court if they meet the criteria. The Prosecutor may recommend someone for participation if they are facing charges for eligible offenses, such as possession or other drug offenses, or another offense that was committed in relation to drugs, as long as none of the current charges involve the use of a firearm. Eligibility also hinges on offenders having no violent felony convictions and no history of sex offenses.

Participants of Drug Court are not released from their sentence with the order to enroll in a treatment program. There is a Drug Court Team that works with each participant:

  • The Prosecutor
  • The Defense Attorney
  • The Drug Court Judge
  • The Drug Court Coordinator
  • The Treatment Provider
  • The Clerk and Court Reporter

One of the keys to participants’ success is the close supervision and encouragement they get from the Team. Participants move through several phases of the program, including screening, initiation and stabilization, consolidation, and reintegration. Throughout all of these, they must be engaged in chemical dependency counseling, attend 12-step meetings, and undergo regular and random drug testing.

If, at any point, a participant fails to follow the program rules, they are removed from the program and immediately face sentencing without a new trial.

The charges against a participant are dropped when they graduate from the program. Less than 4 percent of Drug Court graduates are re-arrested.

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