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Can Drug Courts Save Money for Washington State Taxpayers?

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Steve Aos - January 1999

In the late 1980s, with the number of drug-related cases on the rise, several courts in the United States began to experiment with new ways to process defendants charged with drug-related offenses.  A key innovation was the “drug court.”  Due to the more intensive monitoring by the court, as well as the provision of drug treatment, drug courts are more expensive than regular court processing.  A typical program costs about $2,000 more per participant.  Are drug courts worth this extra cost?  Do participants commit fewer subsequent crimes and thereby reduce future costs to taxpayers and crime victims?  In short, what is the bottom line? 

Report ID: 99-01-1201

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