Drug courts are specialized court docket programs that target criminal defendants and offenders, juvenile offenders, and parents with pending child welfare cases who have alcohol and other drug dependency problems.
As of December 2014, the estimated number of drug courts operating in the U.S. is over 3,000. More than half target adults, including DWI (driving while intoxicated) offenders and a growing number of Veterans; others address juvenile, child welfare, and different case types.
Number and Types of Drug Courts
(As of December 2014)
|Type of Drug Court||Number|
Find a drug court using the National Drug Court Resource Center's database Exit Notice.
The Drug Court Model
Although drug courts vary in target population, program design, and service resources, they are generally based on a comprehensive model involving:
- Offender screening and assessment of risks, needs, and responsivity.
- Judicial interaction.
- Monitoring (e.g., drug testing) and supervision.
- Graduated sanctions and incentives.
- Treatment and rehabilitation services.
Drug courts are usually managed by a nonadversarial and multidisciplinary team including judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, community corrections, social workers and treatment service professionals. Support from stakeholders representing law enforcement, the family and the community is encouraged through participation in hearings, programming and events like graduation.
For information on evidence based practices, visit the BJA-NIJ Adult Drug Court Research to Practice (R2P) Initiative.
NIJ's webpage on Drug Court Performance Measures, Program Evaluation and Cost Efficiency.
For information on training and technical assistance resources:
 Counts and map of drug court programs provided by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals.
Date Modified: May 13, 2016