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Snap Shot as of 1-1-2017

  • Treatment Courts:
  • Year Started: 2006

Drug Treatment Courts Summary

On January 1 2006, two “Court-controlled drug programmes” were established in Norway as pilot projects in the cities of Oslo and Bergen. According to the US National Association of Drug Courts Professionals, a drug court is “ a special court given the responsibility to handle cases involving substance-abusing offenders through comprehensive supervision, drug testing, treatment services and immediate sanctions and incentives”. In Norway, drug treatment courts deal with offenders of all ages and of both sexes, with an established relationship between a pattern of serious drug misuse and offending. The aim of the drug treatment court is to reduce or eliminate offenders' dependence on drugs and to reduce the level of drug-related criminal activity.

In the juridical sense, the drug treatment court sentence is a suspended sentence where participation in drug treatment court programmes is a condition. The offender has to agree to participate in the drug treatment court programme. The programmes include court-controlled treatment and rehabilitation activities. The programme consists of four phases, and is specially designed for each individual offender. Flexibility is an essential feature of the programme in order to meet the offender’s various needs. Some may need a 24-hour a day treatment at an institution, while others may need policlinic treatment. A supervision and treatment team is responsible for the design of the programme. The team consists of representatives from the Correctional Services, the social service, and the health service and in some cases representatives from the educational and employment service. Other organizations may also be represented in the team, like the police, the child protection agency etc. The permanent members of the team-work together at a drug treatment court centre, and some of the client’s activities also take place there. The drug treatment court programme transforms the roles of both criminal justice practitioners and drug treatment providers, and one of the aims for the pilot project is to develop good models for cooperation between the services.

A special feature of the Norwegian model is that the court’s involvement in the programme is not as prominent as for example in the Irish or the Scottish model. However, the court supervises the programme, and all the time during the programme, the offender is accountable to the court. It is the court that rewards pro- gress, by for example moving the client to the next phase, or sanctions noncompliance. Naturally, it is also the court that responds to criminal activity during the programme. The punishment for not following the conditions as well as for new criminality may be imprisonment.

The drug programme is arried out in four phases. The phases are designated the instigation phase, the stabilisation phase, the responsibility phase and the continuation phase. The phases are decided on the basis of an individual assessment and of what constitutes realistic progress. The contents of the phases and the conditions for progressing from one to the next shall be stated in the implementation plan. Compliance with requirements allows participants to move on to the next phase and move closer to program completion.

After being a trial project in Bergen and Oslo for 10 years, as of the 1st of January 2016 the Norwegian Drug Court model was made permanent and nationwide.  Now all the courts in Norway have jurisdiction to "suspended sentence with the condition to attend the Drug treatment program." The probationary period is at least 2 years. In this period the program will be supervised by the Court. Only one or two judges in the 14 biggest district courts will do the following up and supervise. 

Norway News


Norway to sentence some drug addicts to treatment rather than prison

Norway's courts will now be able to sentence drug-addicted convicts to treatment programmes instead of sending them to jail.

Following trials in Bergen and Oslo, the narkotikaprogrammet (narcotics programme) is being introduced nationwide, effective immediately.

Read more HERE


The Fix

Norway’s New Controversial Approach to Drug Treatment

Hailed by the government as a success, critics argue that it forces people into treatment. 

Norway is implementing a new approach to treat drug users, one that expands its current drug court program. Instead of sending drug users to prison, Norwegian courts now have thepower to sentence convicted drug users to rehabilitation.

Read more HERE



Norway tries a novel tactic for drug addicts—rehab instead of jail

In the US, almost half of federal prisoners are in jail for crimes related to drugs (pdf); almost a fifth committed their crimes to obtain money for drugs. Norway is trying to take a different approach to the problem.

Norwegian courts now have the power to sentence convicted drug users to rehabilitation (link in Norwegian), instead of sending them to prison. The narkotikaprogram was first trialled in the cities of Oslo and Bergen in 2006. It gave drug users the choice to avoid prison by signing up for treatment. A multidisciplinary team, which includes experts from education and specialist health services, was brought in to tailor the treatment to each individual drug user.

Read more HERE


Useful Resources

Images from Norway AODT Court