New York State leads the nation in the expansion and implementation of drug courts into daily court operations.
Drug courts use a collaborative approach to treatment involving defense attorneys, prosecutors, treatment and education providers, and law enforcement officials. Non-violent offenders voluntarily enter the program in which rules are clearly defined and a contract between the offender, attorneys, the District Attorney and the court is signed.
Results from these treatment programs have been overwhelmingly positive. A 2003 study of six drug courts conducted by the Center for Court Innovation demonstrates that the rates at which drug court graduates re-offend are significantly reduced. Based on the accomplishments of drug court treatment, these courts are being opened throughout the country.
There are 141 drug courts in operation statewide.
Types of Drug Treatment Courts in New York State
Criminal Drug Treatment Courts
Defendants facing felony or misdemeanor charges where drug addiction is a component of their offense may be eligible to participate in a criminal DTC program. Those who successfully complete their drug treatment court program may have their charges dismissed or reduced or may receive a reduction in their sentence.
In October 2009, a new law, Criminal Procedure Law, Article 216: Judicial Diversion Program for Certain Felony Offenders, authorizes a court to divert eligible felony offenders into substance abuse treatment programs.
Young Adult Drug Treatment Courts are operational in several of the criminal courts. These courts target defendants in the 16- to 21-year-old population.
Family Drug Treatment Courts
Family drug treatment courts (FDTC) target respondents in neglect petitions where substance abuse is a component of the allegations. Respondents who successfully complete the program are reunited with their children in the great majority of cases. Additionally, successful participants in the FDTC program often receive more liberal contact with their children prior to graduation.
Juvenile Drug Treatment Courts
Participants in the juvenile drug treatment courts (JDTC) are facing either Juvenile Delinquency (JD) or Person In Need of Supervision (PINS) petitions in the Family Court where substance abuse forms some component of the pending petition. Successful participation in the juvenile drug treatment court program generally results in the dismissal of the pending petition.
New York State opened the first opioid court in the nation May 2017 in Buffalo.
The Buffalo Opioid Intervention Court provides immediate intervention, treatment, and medication for defendants who screen positive for opioids and staff feel are at risk of overdose or addiction.The University of Buffalo School of Family Medicine (UBFM), a grant partner, contributes key staff positions. Those staff members provide daily case management for program participants and link those participants to medication assisted treatment (MAT) within 48 hours of arraignment when indicated.
Bronx County has one of the highest number of opioid-related overdoses and deaths in the state. The Bronx Opioid Avoidance and Recovery Court is a collaboration between the court, prosecutors, and the defense bar. Defendants charged with misdemeanor drug possession are diverted to existing treatment services. Because only misdeamnor offenders are eligible, charges are generally dismissed upon completion of the recommended intervention.
For further information on Problem-Solving Courts or if you would like to schedule a court visit, please contact the Office of Policy and Planning at ProblemSolving@nycourts.gov