Florida started the national drug court movement in 1989 by creating the first drug court in the United States in Miami-Dade County.
In the years since Florida pioneered the drug court concept, numerous studies have confirmed that drug courts significantly reduce crime, provide better treatment outcomes, and produce better cost benefits than other criminal justice strategies.
The Florida Legislature has a long history of proactively addressing drug-related crime.
- In 1993, the Legislature provided for pretrial substance abuse education and treatment intervention programs for eligible nonviolent felony offenders (see Section 948.08(6), Florida Statutes, 1993). These pretrial intervention programs are the precursors to the many forms of drug courts that exist today in Florida.
- In 2001, the Legislature stated its intent that drug courts be implemented “in each judicial circuit in an effort to reduce crime and recidivism, abuse and neglect cases, and family dysfunction by breaking the cycle of addiction which is the most predominant cause of cases entering the justice system. The Legislature recognizes that the integration of judicial supervision, treatment, accountability, and sanctions greatly increases the effectiveness of substance abuse treatment.” (see Section 397.334, Florida Statutes, 2001)
- In 2009, the Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability released a study on adult post-adjudicatory drug courts in Florida which showed that individuals who successfully completed post-adjudicatory drug courts were 80% less likely to go to prison than the comparison group. The study also reported to the Legislature that drug courts could save Florida more money by targeting nonviolent, prison-bound offenders. The Florida Legislature appropriated Edward J. Byrne Justice Assistance Grant stimulus funds to expand adult post-adjudicatory drug courts.
- In January 2014, Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability released an outcome and cost study. Among
the key findings from the OPPAGA Report are:
- The estimated cost savings through diversion if 100% of offenders were prison-bound is $7.6 million;
- Diverting prison-bound offenders to drug courts may also produce cost savings through reduced recidivism;
- The estimated annual savings through reduced recidivism is about $500,000;
- The average completion rate statewide is 53%. Drug court completion rates varied, affected by the availability and use of residential treatment and judicial interaction;
- When compared to similar offenders, successful drug court completers had fewer felony convictions (9% drug court completers vs. 19% comparison group);
- When compared to similar offenders, successful drug court completers had fewer prison sentences (2% drug court completers vs. 9% comparison group).
As of December 2016, Florida has 96 drug courts. This includes 59 adult drug courts, 22 juvenile delinquency drug courts, and 15 family dependency drug courts.
Publications and Resources
National Association of Drug Court Professionals Best Practice
This National Association of Drug Court Professional webpage provides access to Volume I and Volume II of the Adult Drug Court Best Practice Standards. The standards are research-based and address standards for treatment, drug and alcohol testing, the multidisciplinary team, assessment tools, target population, and more.
Florida Adult Felony Drug Courts Evaluation Report and Evaluation Report
Findings in Brief and Evaluation Report Summary Points
In 2009, the Florida Supreme Court, Office of the State Courts Administrator received a grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance for a statewide evaluation of Florida adult felony drug courts. This report, produced in December 2013, provides details about the statewide impact evaluation and summarizes the results of the process, outcome, and cost evaluation reports.
National Association of Drug Court Professionals
This website provides information about drug courts, training opportunities, and resources.
National Drug Court Month
May is National Drug Court Month. Each year National Drug Court Month shines a light on the collective impact of drug courts throughout the nation. The month's activities showcase drug courts, and, further, bring attention to countless lives saved, families reunited, and communities made safer through the program.
You may view the Supreme Court of Florida proclamation that was signed by Chief Justice Jorge Labarga and the State of Florida resolution signed by Governor Rick Scott and the Cabinet of the State of Florida, recognizing May 2016 as National Drug Court Month.
For more information about National Drug Court Month, please visit the National Association of Drug Court Professional's 2016 National Drug Court Month Resource Center.
The Office of the State Courts Administrator collects and compiles data annually from the local drug courts that were
operational at some point during the year. Below are various reports that show the number of admissions, graduates, and
2015 Drug Court Data
2014 Drug Court Data
2013 Drug Court Data
2012 Drug Court Data
2011 Drug Court Data
Critical Performance Indicators for Florida's Drug Courts
Critical Data Elements for Florida's Drug Courts
Florida Drug Courts' Quick Facts
- As of December 2016, Florida has 96 drug courts in operation, including 47 adult felony, 8 adult misdemeanor, 22 juvenile, 15 family dependency, and 4 DUI courts.
- There were over 7,300 admissions into Florida’s drug courts in 2015.
- In 2015, there were 205 children reunited with their parents in Florida due to dependency drug courts.
- In 2015, there were 112 drug-free babies born to female participants while in drug court.
Florida Supreme Court Governance Groups
The Task Force on Substance Abuse and Mental Health Issues in the Courts addresses the needs of individuals with serious mental illnesses and substance use disorders who become involved in the justice system. The task force is charged with developing practice standards for Florida’s drug courts.