Too many people find themselves behind bars, often multiple times, because they have substance abuse issues involving drugs or alcohol. The goal of specialty courts (also referred to as problem-solving courts or drug courts) is to help people who are battling these issues get the help they need.
Research has shown that these courts not only decrease the rate of recidivism, but improve community safety. They also save money. Crime rates are reduced by up to 45 percent when offenders go through specialty courts rather than traditional criminal courts. The rate of return on investment in these courts has been shown to be, on average, over $2.00 for every $1.00 spent, and even higher for high-risk offenders.
Nevada has done pioneering work with specialty courts since they started here in the early 1990s. The state has 46 specialty courts. Some are included in the Reno Municipal Court system. Besides a Drug-DUI Court, Reno has other specialty courts:
- COD Court is for defendants with "co-occurring" mental health and substance abuse issues
- "Fresh Start" Therapeutic Court is for defendants convicted of DUIs
- TRAIN Court is for homeless "serial inebriate" defendants. It is run in conjunction with THE CROSSROADS, which is a transitional living program. Along with Washoe County Social Services, the goal is to reduce homelessness in our area.
In many cases, substance abuse problems go hand-in-hand with mental health issues and homelessness. Specialty courts strive to deal with the underlying problems that too often land people in jail, only to be released to face their demons alone.
If you or a loved one are facing prison because of a substance abuse issue, it's worthwhile to talk with a Nevada criminal defense attorney. He or she may be able to get the case moved to one of these specialty courts. Getting into the right program can make the difference for someone's future.
Source: City of Reno, "Specialty Courts and Programs," accessed March 23, 2016