How drug courts work

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.

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