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Drug Courts

(Adult Felony, Adult Misdemeanor, Juvenile, Family Dependency, and Driving Under the Influence Drug Courts)

 

Background

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. That same year, the Florida Legislature appropriated Edward J. Byrne Justice Assistance Grant stimulus funds to expand adult post-adjudicatory drug courts to divert prison-bound offenders who are appropriate for participation in drug court. The federal grant funding expired in June 2013 and the state is now providing recurring funding to continue the program. (Click here for more information regarding the Post-Adjudicatory Drug Court Expansion Program.)

 

Current Status

As of August 2019, Florida has 91 drug courts in operation, including 54 adult, 20 juvenile, 13 family dependency, and 4 DUI courts.

The components of drug courts, from Florida Statutes 397.334:

  • Integration of alcohol and other drug treatment services into justice system case processing
  • Non-adversarial approach
  • Early identification of eligible participants
  • Continuum of services
  • Alcohol and drug testing for abstinence
  • Coordinated strategy for responses to participants’ compliance
  • Ongoing judicial interaction
  • Monitoring and evaluation for program effectiveness
  • Interdisciplinary education
  • Partnerships with stakeholders

 

Publications and Resources

Florida Adult Drug Court Best Practice Standards: Full DocumentPDF Download

Florida Adult Drug Court Best Practice Standards: I-XPDF Download

Florida Adult Felony Drug Courts Evaluation ReportPDF Download and Evaluation Report Findings in BriefPDF Download and Evaluation Report Summary PointsPDF Download
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 Association of Drug Court Professionals Best Practice Standards
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.

National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges: Juvenile Drug Court Information Center
This information center provides recommended strategies for juvenile drug courts, including tools, publications, strategic planning, and fidelity assessment.

Children and Family Futures: Family Drug Courts
The website includes recommendations for developing family drug court guidelines, needs assessments, and a literature review.

Critical Performance Indicators for Florida's Drug CourtsPDF Download

Critical Data Elements for Florida's Drug CourtsPDF Download

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 proclamationPDF Download that was signed by Chief Justice Charles T. Canady and the State of Florida resolution signed by Governor Ron DeSantis and the Cabinet of the State of Florida, recognizing May 2019 as National Drug Court Month.

For more information about National Drug Court Month, please visit the National Association of Drug Court Professional's 2019 National Drug Court Month Resource Center.

Data

Data from 2017 show that Florida’s drug courts admitted 6,195 participants and graduated 3,577.

Florida Supreme Court Governance Groups

The Steering Committee on Problem Solving Courts has been charged with addressing the needs of court-engaged individuals with mental illnesses and substance use disorders through the use of differentiated case management and other evidence-based and emerging best practices. 

Click here to learn more about the work of the Steering Committee.