Study says Oregon drug courts save tax dollars, reduce crime, and offer new beginnings
Data compiled by an Oregon research firm reveal that participants in Multnomah County's STOP drug court program each cost about $1,500 less than drug offenders going through traditional court processing.
The data were released Tuesday as public officials, judges, court personnel and graduates gathered at the State Capitol in Salem to celebrate the success of Oregon's 28 drug courts.
"When you add in the savings from positive outcomes, and multiply it by 300 new participants each year, it translates to over $1.5 million in taxes saved each year in Multnomah County alone," says Shannon Carey, NPC senior research associate.
Drug courts also help curb crime. According to the report, graduates of the program were rearrested almost 50 percent less often than non-participants. Proponents say drug courts are helping build stronger and safer communities for everyone.
"Drug courts offer offenders a chance to turn their lives around, recover from substance abuse and keep their families together," says Department of Human Services Director, Gary K. Weeks. "That kind of positive benefit to our communities is priceless."
Ten of Oregon's newest drug court graduates joined the celebration as winners of an essay contest sponsored by the Oregon Association of Drug Court Professionals (OADCP). In recognition of their achievements, Oregon State Supreme Court Justice Wallace P. Carson and Attorney General Hardy Myers presented each of the 10 winners a commemorative plaque.
"We are here to applaud the accomplishments of drug court graduates across the state and everyone involved in the success of this program," says Myers. "These 10 winners exemplify the hard work and commitment required of all participants and we wish them and their families continued success as they embark on a new life."
Clients in the program must plead guilty and agree to a year of participation that includes frequent appearances before the judge, mandatory substance abuse treatment, and drug testing. If the client successfully completes the program, the criminal charges are dropped. Today Oregon has 28 courts, including 17 adult drug courts, and more than 4,200 people have graduated to date.
"Drug courts have been successful because they bridge the gap between the court, the criminal justice system, treatment programs, and public health," says OADCP president and Marion County Circuit Court Judge Dennis J. Graves. "Regardless of individual agendas, everybody works together toward one goal: helping the client stop using drugs, get into treatment, and become a contributing member of society."
Nadine Jelsing, DHS, (503) 945-5950
Program Contact: Joe Garcia, OADCP, (541) 957-2441