Many people believe that the abuse of drugs is a one-way ticket to a long-term jail sentence. While this may be historically true, the State of California is beginning to take a different approach to drug use and abuse. This new approach is the “collaborative court.”
Collaborative courts are a drug court model that is evidence based. It attempts to stop the cycle of addiction, crime and incarceration across California. According to the Superior Court of California, collaborative courts are more effective than jail or prison and are cost-beneficial when they adhere to best practices.
What does collaborative court look like?
Collaborative court involves a specific set of court programs that offer an alternative to the traditional criminal justice system. They are for high-risk individuals who struggle with substance abuse. Both misdemeanor and felony offenders may benefit from collaborative court.
After an eligible participant pleads guilty to a crime, they will then participate in a 12-month program. This involves close judicial supervision as well as heavy drug treatment counseling, combined with testing, sanctions/incentives and vocational training.
Does collaborative court help violent offenders?
Generally speaking, no. If an offender has a history of violent offenses, or if the courts are charging them with a violent crime alongside anything drug-related, the courts will exclude them from collaborative court. The only exception to this is domestic violence charges.
Collaborative court not only helps break the cycle of drug use and incarceration, it can also help save money. The Superior Court of California estimates that there may be cost savings ranging from between $3,000-$13,000 per client, depending. Collaborative court helps save money, time, and, most importantly, lives.