|Office of Community
Oriented Policing Services
U.S. Department of Justice
There are many benefits of law enforcement working with the judge, prosecutor, defense counsel, and treatment coordinator/social worker to help focus on problem solving and recovery in an effort to produce safer communities. Community policing can focus on changing offenders' behavior and being proactive instead of reactive, thus providing an alternative to locking someone up and expecting that person simply to stop the behaviors that continually cause him or her to break the law.
This, in turn, can reduce future recidivism. For example, drug court graduation is in itself a powerful predictor of avoiding post-program recidivism; research has shown that those who fail drug court are far more likely to recidivate in the post-program period. If the offender can't comply with the treatment court program, he or she is returned to the criminal justice system, but at least the offender was given the option for treatment and the chance to change—a chance not at all possible without treatment courts.
There are numerous benefits for officers to consider including crime prevention and financial benefits. Individuals who have out of control drug addictions can commit numerous crimes each year to support their habit. If an individual completes treatment and no longer has a habit to support, the number of crimes could be greatly reduced or eliminated. These reductions in recidivism can decrease judicial costs as well as costs that would have otherwise resulted from potential victims.
As for the judges in treatment courts, they are similar to officers who practice community policing. Judges will check in with offenders and ask them about their life and progress in treatment. Like police officers on the street, judges have the ability to share information with all parties involved, and offenders are made aware that other people are invested in them and their motivation for living a crime-free life.
Veteran courts can help those experiencing mental health or substance abuse issues after returning home from service. Veteran courts understand that vets have unique needs and deserve special consideration simply for their willingness to serve and defend our nation.
Drug courts can assist people addicted to drugs or alcohol obtain treatment, and they can reduce the number of jail or prison admissions. Drug courts involve intensive judicial supervision, mandatory drug testing, escalating sanctions, and treatment to help substance-abusing offenders break the cycle of addiction and the crime that accompanies it.
Mental health courts can help people with mental illnesses who commit crimes obtain treatment and counseling, so they can learn to understand and treat their illness. Thus, mental health courts would provide these individuals with the resources needed to help prevent themselves from recidivating.