Capitol Words a project of the Sunlight Foundation

  • and

National Drug Court Week

Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell

legislator photo

Mr. President, as I did around this time last year, I want to recognize National Drug Court Week which is taking place next week. Since the Senate will be in recess at that time, I take this opportunity today to applaud our nation's drug courts and the people who have made them the successes they are today.

Next week, the National Association of Drug Court Professionals will sponsor a training conference, suitably titled ``Celebrating Ten Years of Drug Courts: Honoring the Past, Looking to the Future,'' which will be held in Miami Beach, Florida. This year approximately 3,000 professionals from across the country, including judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, law enforcement officers, corrections personnel, rehabilitation and treatment providers, educators, researchers and community leaders will be attending the conference. These Drug Court professionals' dedication has had a significant positive impact on the communities they serve.

The two and a half day conference will coincide with National Drug Court Week, June 1st though 7th, 1999. All across America, state and local governments have been recognizing drug courts and their dedicated professionals with resolutions, ceremonies and celebrations.

The Drug Court growth rate has been accelerating over the past several years. While the first Drug Court was established in 1989, there are currently over 600 Drug Courts that are either operating or being established. This surge in growth is a product of success.

Drug Courts are revolutionizing the criminal justice system. The strategy behind Drug Courts departs from traditional criminal justice practice by placing non-violent drug abusing offenders into intensive court supervised drug treatment programs instead of prison. Some Drug Courts target first time offenders, while others concentrate on habitual offenders. They all aim to reduce drug abuse and crime by employing a number of tools including comprehensive judicial monitoring, drug testing and supervision, treatment and rehabilitative services, and sanctions and incentives for drug offenders.

Statistics show us that Drug Courts work. It has been well documented that both drug use and associated criminal behavior are substantially reduced among those offenders participating in the Drug Courts. More than 70 percent of drug court clients have successfully completed the program or remain as active participants.

Drug Courts are also clearly cost-effective and help convert many drug-using offenders into productive members of society. Traditional incarceration has yielded few gains for our drug offenders. The costs are too high and the rehabilitation rate is minimal. Our Drug Courts are proving to be an effective alternative to traditional rehabilitation methods and are make strides forward in our fight against both drugs and crime.

In 1997, General McCaffrey and I had the opportunity to visit the Denver Drug Court. Through this experience I was able to meet with Denver's Drug Court professionals and observe their judicial procedures and other program activities first hand. I was impressed with the Denver Drug Court professionals and procedures, and believe they will yield many successes.

Today, as the chairman of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee, which funds the Office of National Drug Control Policy, I feel it is fitting to recognize on the floor of the U.S. Senate the important contributions our nation's Drug Court professionals are making toward reducing drug use and crime in our communities in time for National Drug Court Week.

Thank you Mr. President.