Drug Court was Kentucky’s first Specialty Court program and has a long track record of significantly reducing drug use and criminal behavior. Instead of spending time in jail, Drug Court participants choose to complete a substance use disorder program supervised by a judge. Drug Court graduates are more likely to return to productive lives and stay gainfully employed, pay child support and meet other obligations.
The Department of Specialty Courts at the Administrative Office of the Courts oversees Drug Court programs in 120 counties.
Individuals eligible for Drug Court have been charged with drug use or nonviolent drug-related crime, with their main problems stemming from substance use disorder. Drug Court combines close court supervision and treatment with other services to intervene and break the cycle of substance abuse and crime.
The program uses a team approach that involves collaboration among local judges, Drug Court staff, prosecutors, defense counsel, treatment professionals, law enforcement officers and other community agencies. Drug Court staff work closely with treatment providers and other community resources to offer a comprehensive approach to recovery and help participants regain control of their lives.
Participants are required to take part in mental health sessions, self-help groups and frequent urine screening. They also must obtain employment. The felony program lasts a minimum of 18 months and the misdemeanor program lasts a minimum of 15 months. Those who successfully complete the program may have their charges dismissed through diversion or be granted conditional discharge through probation.
Since being implemented in 1996, Drug Court has successfully combined a strong treatment component with the legal weight of law enforcement. The program provides alternative services for much less than the cost of incarceration.
People charged with offenses related to substance use disorder who are interested in being considered for Drug Court should talk with their attorney about a referral.