United States

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Snap Shot as of 6-31-2015

  • Treatment Courts: 3,133
  • Year Started: 1989
  • Graduates: Over 100,00

Drug Treatment Courts Summary

Drug courts are specialized court docket programs that target criminal defendants and offenders, juvenile offenders, and parents with pending child welfare cases who have alcohol and other drug dependency problems.

As of June 2015, the estimated number of drug courts operating in the U.S. is over 3,000. The majority target adults, including DWI (driving while intoxicated) offenders and a growing number of Veterans; others address juvenile, child welfare, and different case types.[1]

Number and Types of Drug Courts
(As of June 2015)[1]
Type of Drug Court Number
Adult 1,561
Juvenile 408
Family 312
Veterans 306
DWI 273
Tribal 138
Co-occurring 70
Re-entry 27
Federal District 29
Federal Veterans 6
Campus 3
​​​Total  3,133

The Drug Court Model

Although drug courts vary in target population, program design, and service resources, they are generally based on a comprehensive model involving: 

  • Offender screening and assessment of risks, needs, and responsivity.
  • Judicial interaction.
  • Monitoring (e.g., drug testing) and supervision.
  • Graduated sanctions and incentives.
  • Treatment and rehabilitation services.

Drug courts are usually managed by a nonadversarial and multidisciplinary team including judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, community corrections, social workers and treatment service professionals. Support from stakeholders representing law enforcement, the family and the community is encouraged through participation in hearings, programming and events like graduation.


[1] Counts and map of drug court programs provided by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals.

United States News

New York Times

Outside Box, Federal Judges Offer Addicts a Free Path

Federal judges around the country are teaming up with prosecutors to create special treatment programs for drug-addicted defendants who would otherwise face significant prison time, an effort intended to sidestep drug laws widely seen as inflexible and overly punitive.

Read more HERE


60 Minutes

For veterans in legal trouble, special courts can help

Every Wednesday Patrick Dugan, a judge at the Philadelphia Municipal Court and a captain in the U.S. Army Reserves JAG Corps, presides over a special kind of courtroom.

Read more HERE


National Public Radio (NPR)

California Court Helps Kids By Healing Parents' Addictions

At 10 a.m. on a recent Wednesday morning, a line of parents pushing strollers filed into a conference room at the Sacramento County Courthouse in California. They sat at rows of narrow plastic tables, shushing their babies and looking up at a man in a black robe.

Read more HERE


Useful Resources

Images from United States Drug Treatment Courts