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An Evaluation of Alabama's Drug Courts: Can Eradication of Opioid and Substance Abuse Disorders be Achieved Through Evaluation?

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Awardee County
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $1,431,471)

Proposal Abstract
(Category 3: Statewide)

Amount requested: $1,431,470.60

    Opioids and substance abuse-related overdoses and deaths have created a national crisis and have caused many Americans to lose children, parents, and friends. Alabama shares in this crisis. Even though the issue of over-prescribing has decreased, there is still a strong influx of heroin, fentanyl, and other illicit substances flooding Alabama communities. The battle to combat this problem is at the forefront and something must be done.

    Following evidence-based practices and the 10 Key Components, Alabama established its drug courts not to punish non-violent drug/ alcohol offenders, but to rehabilitate them into productive member of society. Individuals with opioid and substance abuse disorders can and do find themselves involved in the criminal justice system. These individuals are not inherently criminal. Most are suffering from the disease of addiction with an underlying cause or trauma associated with this need to turn to illicit substances. Drug court allows them to not only pay their debt to society through community service and accountability, but to also receive mental health assessment, treatment, and have access to support services.

    The AOC’s grant proposal seeks to fund an evaluation of Alabama’s adult drug courts and determine how treatment courts are addressing those with opioid and substance abuse disorders, reducing recidivism, and reducing overdoses and overdose-related deaths. This evaluation will aid AOC in ensuring that drug courts are operating, up-to-date, and sustainable.

    Roughly half of Alabama is considered rural, so it is particularly imperative to evaluate their treatment courts to ascertain whether they are operating at the same level as the courts in the urban area. Rural Alabama is poverty-stricken with very few resources such as treatment services and facilities as well as drug courts and drug testing staff. The question remains, how can AOC aid these rural areas in providing the same uniform, unified services and resources as the courts in urban areas?

    In order to accomplish an objective statewide evaluation, the AOC will contract with the University of Alabama (UA) Psychology Department. Over the course of 48 months, the UA research team will conduct a study examining Alabama’s adult drug courts from 2022-2026 and hire a Grant Administrator to oversee the grant. AOC will also partner with the Center for Court Innovation (CCI) to provide information on local resources and services to drug courts and participants in the form of bench cards, pamphlets, and leaflets.

Date Created: September 28, 2022