Office of the Governor Rick Perry

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Drug Courts

Summary of Achievement

Governor Perry has supported alternatives to incarceration that result in people who commit non-violent, drug-related crimes finding their way to productive and useful crime-free lives through effective treatment programs imposed by the court.

The Challenge

Drug abuse is the common denominator found within most crime. Texas prisons and county jails are filled to capacity with both violent and non-violent offenders.

Action / Initiative

Federal and state initiatives have created momentum for the development of drug courts in Texas.  Recognizing the efficacy of drug courts in reducing recidivism, Governor Perry ensured the place of drug courts in the criminal justice system by signing legislation that improves the sustainability of new and existing drug courts by imposing a new court cost on defendants who are convicted of drug and alcohol offenses. 

Drug courts enable non-violent substance abuse offenders to become productive and responsible members of the community.  Employing the assessment of each offender’s treatment requirements, abstinence monitoring, assistance with employment and educational pursuits, and the creation a graduation and relapse prevention plan result in extremely low recidivism rates when compared to offenders who receive no treatment.  Eligible participants undergo an intensive regimen of substance abuse and mental health treatment, case management, drug testing, and probation supervision while reporting to regularly scheduled status hearings before a judge with specialized expertise in the drug court model.

The Outcome

Since 2001, Texas has increased its number of drug courts from 7 to 74.  There are now drug courts in 42 counties around the state.  Drug court participants undergo substance abuse treatment, mental health treatment, drug testing and probation supervision while reporting to regular status hearings before a judge.  Re-arrest and recidivism rates of drug court program participants are generally between 10 and 30 percentage points below those of offenders who are arrested outside the jurisdiction of the drug court and do not receive treatment.

A substantial portion of the court cost is retained in the local jurisdiction for the development and maintenance of future drug court programs, eliminating the dependence of local drug courts on federal or state funding.