Drug and Specialty Courts
and alcohol addiction is a problem that has grown in scope
dramatically over the past three decades. During the
decades of the 1980s and 1990s the problems associated with
drug and alcohol abuse were considered by many to be the paramount
public health issue facing the United States (U.S. Department
of Justice, 1997, 1997 Drug Use Forecasting: Annual Report
on Adult and Juvenile Arrestees). Drug courts
were devised as a means for effectively using the resources
of a community to fight the problem of drug and alcohol addiction.
first identified drug court was established in Dade County,
Florida in 1989 as an experiment in problem solving.
The design was premised upon the ability of a judge, with
the help of all the justice system stakeholders, to supervise
individuals who needed services.
These services combine both treatment and educational components
with the ability of a supervising judge to award incentives
and sanctions based upon the performance of the clients while
in treatment. Treatment is community based and drug
court participants are required to meet with the judge on
a regular basis to review progress. Drug court clients
are tested regularly and are required to attend varying levels
of treatment based upon the individual needs of each client.
courts are organized based upon the following components:
Drug testing must be incorporated into case processing.
The creation of a relationship between the court and the
defendant that is non-adversarial.
Defendants must be screened and referred to treatment
shortly after arrest.
There must be access to a continuum of treatment, rehabilitation,
and educational services.
There must be frequent, mandatory drug testing to monitor
Each court must establish a coordinated and comprehensive
strategy to govern the court's responses to the compliance
or non-compliance of the drug court client.
Each drug court must maintain judicial interaction with
each drug court client.
Drug courts must be monitored and evaluated regularly.
There must be continuing training that is interdisciplinary
to promote best practices for both treatment and court
Drug courts must be based upon partnerships between public
and private agencies to support and maintain operations.
(More information about these 10 key components of drug courts from the U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Courts Program Office)
Courts in Louisiana
There were 49 operational drug court programs in Louisiana in 2017, comprised of 32 adult drug courts, 13 juvenile drug courts, and four family preservation courts. Of these 49 programs, 37 have been in operation 10 years or longer. Each program is comprised of a drug court team which is led by a drug court judge and includes a drug court coordinator, treatment staff, a prosecutor, a public defender, law enforcement representatives, a case manager, and other stakeholders. Drug court teams use a non-adversarial approach to ensure that participants receive the highest level of care possible. Teams also work together to ensure program operations adhere to all applicable standards and policies.
As an effective alternative to incarceration, Louisiana drug courts are demanding programs that require frequent and random drug testing, intensive treatment, judicial oversight, and community supervision and support to assure the best possible outcomes for offenders with substance abuse problems. Funds for Louisiana’s drug courts are appropriated by the Louisiana Legislature and administered by the Supreme Court Drug and Specialty Court Office. The Supreme Court Drug and Specialty Court Office awards funds annually to programs statewide. Additionally, the Supreme Court Drug and Specialty Court Office closely monitors each program both fiscally and programmatically throughout the year.
For more information
about drug courts in Louisiana, please contact the Supreme Court Drug and Specialty Court Office at
Supreme Court Drug and Specialty Court Office Brochure
Supreme Court Drug and Specialty Court Office Staff:
Kerry K. Lentini, JD
Deputy Judicial Administrator
Supreme Court Drug and Specialty Court Office Program
Program Services Manager
Veronica Lee Scott
Supreme Court Drug and Specialty
1555 Poydras Street,
New Orleans, LA 70112-3701
(504) 568-2027 -
Center for State Courts
Court Clearinghouse at American University
Association of Drug Court Professionals and National Drug
Association of Drug Court Professionals
for Substance Abuse Research
Center on Addictions and Substance Abuse at Columbia University
Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health
Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs
Institute of Justice
of Justice Assistance
Criminal Justice Reference Service