Drug Courts have their roots in an idea that was developed in Miami, Florida in 1989. In response to a crack epidemic, jurists in Miami realized that the endless cycle of addiction and recidivism needed to be broken to reduce drug use and drug-related crime. The basic concept behind drug courts involves a dramatic intervention by the court in cooperation with an entire team including the defense, prosecution, treatment, education, and law enforcement. In return for a promise of a reduced sentence, appropriate non-violent addicted offenders are given the option of entering voluntarily into court-supervised treatment. The rules and conditions of participation are clearly stated in a contract entered into by the defendant, the defense attorney, the district attorney, and the court. The results have been overwhelmingly positive and drug courts have gone into operation all over the country.
New York State leads the nation in the expansion and institutionalization of drug courts into daily court operations. Chief Judge Judith Kaye recognized the benefits of the program and had the vision to ask that it be implemented in every jurisdiction in the State. The Office of Court Drug Treatment Programs (OCDTP), directed by Deputy Chief Administrative Judge Judy Harris Kluger, is currently involved in an intensive effort to make court drug treatment programs available Statewide. As of October 1, 2007 there were 171 drug courts in operation, 91 in the criminal courts, 54 in the family courts, 8 in the town and village courts and 18 drug courts focused solely on juveniles. Another 25 community teams are engaged in the planning process to open courts in the coming year. Through October 1, 2007, a total of 46,723 individuals have participated in New York State court drug treatment programs and 16,416 have graduated. In addition, an August, 2004 survey identified a total of 380 drug-free-babies that had been born to drug treatment court participants.
Each drug court in New York is locally based and reflects the legal culture of the community. Support for the program comes from the local communities, the Unified Court System budget and the federal government. Statewide standards are facilitated by the intense training each team receives and the oversight provided through continuous evaluation and assistance from the OCDTP.
Judy Harris Kluger,
Deputy Chief Administrative Judge,
Court Operations & Planning