- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 7, 2001

Attorney General John Ashcroft yesterday announced the award of $30.9 million to 89 drug courts in 38 states and territories to plan, establish or improve the courts for nonviolent offenders with substance-abuse problems.
The grants include more than $1.6 million to four courts in Maryland and Virginia.
"Drug courts help communities by managing offenders' behavior and breaking the cycle of drug addiction and crime," said Mr. Ashcroft in a statement. "Drug court judges are actively involved in holding substance-abusing offenders accountable while helping to rehabilitate them and reduce recidivism."
The Justice Department announcement came at the request of President Bush, who pledged in May to increase funding to fight drug addiction through several programs, including drug courts.
According to Justice Department spokeswoman Katie Biber, 55 jurisdictions will receive grants ranging from $166,000 up to $500,000 for new drug courts. She said 20 courts will receive grants of $31,222 to $300,000 to enhance existing programs or to support statewide drug court activity. Fourteen tribal jurisdictions will receive up to $30,000 to plan drug courts, she said.
Grants will go to Harford County in Maryland, and to courts in Portsmouth, Chesterfield and Newport News in Virginia.
Since 1995, Miss Biber said, the Justice Department's Drug Courts Program Office has awarded 650 grants totaling more than $125 million. Nearly 700 drug courts are operating in the United States and more than 430 others are being planned. All 50 states have drug courts in operation or in the planning stages.
She said 32 states have passed legislation supporting drug courts and six more are introducing legislation. The drug court concept has also expanded to juvenile and family drug courts, driving under the influence/driving while intoxicated, and tribal courts.
According to the Drug Court Clearinghouse at American University, more than 73,000 adults and 1,500 teens have graduated from drug court programs. Recidivism rates continue to drop for graduates, with rates reported by drug courts ranging from 2 percent to 20 percent.
Miss Biber said drug court participants must take frequent drug tests and meet regularly with the judges. The judges monitor offenders' treatment regimens and impose graduated sanctions, including incarceration, on those who do not comply. Participants are expected to stay in treatment and may be ordered to participate in educational, vocational or community-service activities.
Offenders who graduate from drug court programs, she said, may have charges dismissed or sentences reduced.
About $50 million is available for drug courts in fiscal 2001. Mr. Bush has requested $50 million for drug courts in fiscal 2002.
Miss Biber said nearly 230 jurisdictions applied for funding this year; 129 for first-time courts and 99 for enhancements.

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