Drug courts typically target drug offenders found to be clinically addicted. Some accept first-time offenders; others take on people with multiple prior convictions. Drug courts range in duration from a year to two years.
The use of sanctions and rewards are cornerstones of the process. Rewards range from candy bars to advancements to another phase for good behavior; sanctions include community service work and jail time.
In the first phase of a drug court, the most intensive, a defendant:
• Receives treatment ranging from several group sessions a week to an intensive outpatient treatment program.
• Attends several 12-step meetings a week (such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous).
• Provides a urine sample on a random basis by checking every morning to see whether a drug test is ordered.
• Holds a job or attends school.
• Attends weekly or biweekly court hearings so the judge can review their progress.
• Has a curfew of, for example, 9 p.m., which is periodically checked.
Succeeding phases are less demanding and regimented. For example, curfews are gradually relaxed and therapy sessions are less frequent.
Members of a drug court team include a coordinator, a judge, a prosecutor, a defense attorney, a member of law enforcement, a probation officer and a counselor or therapist.