Former California Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald M. George stated:

“Drug courts are a great example of what real collaboration in the justice system can accomplish. These unique courts are an effective way for trial courts and other justice system agencies to work together to reduce drug-related offenses, improve lives, and protect communities.”

In Alameda County in California, the first drug court for adults opened in 1991. Four years later, Tulare County began the first California drug court for juvenile offenders.

Drug courts are now common across California where county governments and court systems have a commitment to the belief that drug and alcohol treatment is a better solution than jail time for non-violent drug offenders.

What are the goals of drug courts?

Drug courts are designed to help substance abusers to rehabilitate themselves with participation in treatment settings rather than punishing people who suffer from substance abuse disorders. The overall objective is to help reduce repeat offenses while also promoting long-term recovery.

California drug courts by the numbers

In 1999, 28 percent of the California prison population were drug offenders. But, in 2000, California passed Proposition 36 that mandates drug treatment rather than jail for minor possession charges. In the period 2009 to 2010, the number of drug offenders in prison in California dropped by 20 percent. Experts credit the reduction to the passage of Proposition 36. In addition, possession of an ounce or less of marijuana was decriminalized and made an infraction instead of a criminal offense in.

Statistics show that drug court defendants are twice as likely to remain arrest-free as a just- released inmate from state prison. Additional research shows drug courts reduce drug dependence and usage while improving job opportunities and family life. While additional research is needed, all indications are that these improvements last as much as 14 years with more research becoming available daily.

Do I need a lawyer for California drug court?

There are specific strategies used in California for defending people charged with a drug crime. An attorney experienced in drug crimes will be a huge help in having your case heard in drug court or another drug diversion program. Successful completion of a drug diversion program can have the added benefit of having your record erased.