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Minnesota Drug Court Serves as National Model

Posted: Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Ramsey County Substance Abuse Court (RCSAC) is set to host a national training program for drug court teams from around the country on Mar. 21, 2012.  The five-day Adult Drug Court Planning Initiative training will bring together approximately 90 participants representing 10 jurisdictions.

"We are honored to serve as a national model for drug courts and welcome the opportunity to host what will be an outstanding week of training and sharing best practices," said Second Judicial District Judge Joanne Smith. "Our team works very hard to ensure that we follow national best practices, and as a result we have been tremendously successful at saving money and saving the lives of those struggling with addiction and mental illness." 

Visiting teams will learn how to develop a drug court in their community. Carolyn Hardin, Senior Director of the National Drug Court Institute, a professional services branch of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, said that training is the key to ensuring long-term success for Drug Courts. "Through the outstanding support of the Bureau of Justice Assistance we are able to give courts the tools they need to implement programs that will serve their communities for years to come," she said. "The success of the Ramsey County Substance Abuse Court makes it the perfect location to bring teams in for this important training."

The RCSAC serves as a national Mentor Court as part of a program sponsored by the National Drug Court Institute in conjunction with the Bureau of Justice Assistance, U.S. Department of Justice.  As a Mentor Court, the RCSAC is a model program helping to develop, identify, and test national best practices and providing technical assistance to programs interested in starting a drug court, including hosting visitors such as court teams participating in training. 

Drug Courts have saved Minnesota an estimated $5 million in avoided incarceration costs. Evaluation findings for RCSAC found that graduates were 14 percent less likely to commit a new felony than those in a comparison group within one year of starting drug court or the disposition date. Additionally, graduates were 36 percent less likely to obtain a new conviction than those in a comparison group within three years of exiting drug court or the disposition date. There have been 24 drug-free babies born to mothers while in the RCSAC.