The White House

Office of the National Drug Control Policy

White House Drug Policy Director Honors National Drug Court Month

WASHINGTON – Citing the success of drug courts in helping people restore their lives through treatment and other social services, R. Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy, today paid tribute to the observance of May as National Drug Court Month. Director Kerlikowske lauded the drug court system as a model of the kind of collaborative, evidence-based and effective approaches the Nation must embrace to reduce drug use and its consequences.

“Drug courts provide a critical service to our Nation’s families and communities by offering viable treatment options for individuals struggling with substance abuse, while reducing the burden on the Nation’s courts, jails, and prisons,” said Director Kerlikowske. “Drug courts are a key element of a holistic approach for reducing the drug abuse and its consequences in the Nation.”

Drug courts, established in 1989, are specialized, mostly locally based courts, dedicated to diverting non-violent, low-level offenders whose underlying problem is drug use, away from prison and into supervised treatment. Through a combination of escalating sanctions, mandatory and random drug testing and aftercare, drug courts are a proven solution that reduces substance abuse, prevents crime, and leverages limited financial resources. With over 2,459 drug courts operational today, approximately 120,000 people annually receive the help they need to break the cycle of addiction.

Earlier this month, Director Kerlikowske attended a drug court graduation ceremony in San Diego and ONDCP Deputy Director Tom McLellan attended a graduation ceremony in Noble County, Indiana; two of over one hundred drug court graduations to take place during May. Director Kerlikowske will also speak at the annual conference of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADPC) on June 5.

“National Drug Court Month is an opportunity to highlight the tremendous impact drug courts have on reducing substance abuse and crime and transforming our criminal justice system,” said West Huddleston, NADCP’s Chief Executive Officer. “With drug courts restoring lives, reuniting families, and making communities across this Nation safer, the time has come to put drug courts within reach of those in the criminal justice system most in need of this life-saving program. On behalf of 27,000 drug court professionals, I wish to thank Director Kerlikowske and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy for their critical support of this goal.”

The success stories of drug court graduates illustrate the positive results of coordination among public health and public safety professionals. Drug courts bring the judicial, law enforcement, and treatment communities, and other social and public services together through rigorous case management to address a participant’s overall needs, including education, housing, job training, and/or mental health referral.

The Administration’s 2010 National Drug Control Strategy sets broad goals of preventing drug use in communities, emphasizing evidence-based strategies for preventing substance abuse and crime, and contains strong support for drug courts. The Strategy emphasizes the need to expand drug courts in both “scope and size,” and calls for a more concentrated effort on high-risk/high-need offenders, those at risk for “continuing substance abuse and criminal activity.”

The Administration’s commitment to courts that increase and enhance access to drug abuse treatment is reflected in a FY2010 President’s Budget of $117 million for these courts.