Six new drug courts will open across the state by next month. The Minnesota Judicial Council gave final approval to the new courts after the Minnesota Legislature approved funding in 2013.
The courts will be located in:
• Carlton County Drug Court (Carlton)
• Eighth Judicial District Drug Court, serving multiple counties in the 8th Judicial District in western Minnesota.
• Morrison County Drug Court (Little Falls)
• Ramsey County Veterans Court (St. Paul) The court opened in 2013 as part of the 2nd Judicial District’s Adult Substance Abuse Court. The district will now establish a stand-alone Veterans Court to focus on high-risk/high-need offenders who are veterans with behavioral, mental, and/or chemical health problems.
• Rice County Drug Court (Faribault)
• Steele-Waseca Drug Court, serving Steele (Owatonna) and Waseca (Waseca) counties.
Drug courts target non-violent criminal offenders who suffer from addiction to alcohol or other drugs. Judges, prosecutors, defense counsel, treatment providers, probation officers, law enforcement, educational and vocational experts and community leaders work together with offenders. The courts closely monitor the defendant’s progress toward sobriety and recovery through ongoing treatment, frequent drug testing, and regular mandatory check-in court appearances. The programs use a range of immediate sanctions and incentives to foster behavior change.
A statewide evaluation of the programs concluded that people who entered a drug court had significantly more success than those who did not. Drug court enrollees:
• Had lower recidivism rates over two-and-a-half years – 17 percent versus 32 percent reconviction rate;
• Spent fewer days incarcerated, saving the state on average $3,200 per participant over two-and-a-half years; and
• Showed gains in employment, educational achievement, home rental or ownership, and payment of child support over the run of the program.
By August, Minnesota will have 44 drug courts that will serve 56 counties, nearly a 50 percent increase in the number of counties currently served by existing drug court programs.