The Department of Justice began supporting treatment courts over 25 years ago. Through the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, Congress first authorized the Attorney General to make grants to states, state courts, local courts, units of local government, and federally recognized Indian tribal government to establish treatment courts. In 1995, the Office of Justice Programs established the Drug Court Discretionary Grant Program, occurring just 6 years after the implementation of the nation’s first treatment court in Miami, Florida. This work was merged into the Bureau of Justice Assistance in 2003.
The Adult Treatment Court Program supports state, local, and tribal efforts to plan, implement, and enhance the operations of adult treatment courts, including tribal healing to wellness courts. Adult treatment court programs are a tool for criminal court partners and the judiciary to facilitate coordinated approaches that address the needs of nonviolent individuals involved in the justice system who have substance use disorders and/or co-occurring mental health needs.
These courts effectively integrate evidence-based substance use disorder treatment, random drug testing, equitable sanctions and incentives, and recovery support services in judicially supervised court settings to reduce recidivism and substance use and misuse, as well as prevent overdoses. These initiatives can incorporate cultural elements and approaches.