Celebrating National Drug Court Month
This month, drug courts throughout the country—more than 3,000 nationwide—are celebrating National Drug Court Month. Each year, more than 150,000 individuals nationwide who enter the justice system because of addiction receive lifesaving treatment and the chance to repair their lives, reunite with their families, and obtain long-term recovery. National Drug Court Month is a celebration of the lives restored by drug court programs.
Thirty years ago, the first drug court opened its doors in Miami–Dade County, Florida, with a simple premise, as described by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP): Rather than continue to allow individuals with long histories of addiction and crime to cycle through the justice system at great expense to the public, use the leverage of the court to keep them engaged in treatment long enough to be successful. Today, drug courts and other treatment courts have proven that a combination of accountability and compassion saves lives while also saving valuable resources and reducing exorbitant criminal justice costs.
Treatment courts significantly improve substance use disorder treatment outcomes, substantially reduce addiction and related crime, and do so at less expense than any other criminal justice strategy. The NADCP reports that, on average, treatment courts save $6,000 for every individual they serve. Beyond the financial benefits, research shows that treatment courts also improve education, employment, housing and financial stability; promote family reunification; reduce foster care placements; and increase the rate of addicted mothers delivering babies who are fully drug free.
Treatment courts represent a compassionate approach to the devastation of addiction, bringing together public safety and public health professionals in community-wide partnerships. This year’s National Drug Court Month celebration is a time to acknowledge and appreciate the societal and economic benefits of treatment courts, which are now recognized as the most successful justice system intervention in our nation’s history.
COAP’s Support of Drug Courts
The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) supports drug courts by providing federal leadership, funding, and training and technical assistance support through its Adult Drug Court program. BJA further strengthens drug court programs by supporting collaborations between drug courts and their partner agencies. This is particularly important as communities throughout the nation grapple with the opioid epidemic. Through BJA’s Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Program (COAP), BJA has funded over 40 collaborations that reinforce the importance of drug courts as a critical component of a comprehensive response to the opioid epidemic. In addition to the COAP grants, BJA joined with Arnold Ventures and recently announced support for a nine-month planning initiative in 15 communities that is designed to help communities develop a comprehensive continuum of care model that builds bridges between jail-based treatment and community-based treatment. Drug courts are an important component of this continuum of care. BJA is honored, through the COAP program, to join the NADCP in celebrating National Drug Court Month and 30 years of treatment courts.
The current Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Site-based Program FY 2019 Competitive Grant Solicitation offers COAP funding for projects related to drug courts or problem-solving courts. Provisions in the solicitation state that Category 1 grant funds may be used to “establish court-based intervention programs or family court programming to prioritize and expedite treatment and recovery services to individuals at high risk for overdose. Funding is available under other BJA solicitations to implement or enhance an adult drug court and/or a veteran treatment court. As such, implementing or enhancing these court models is not an allowable funding activity under this solicitation.” Allowable uses for Category 3 funds include supporting “collaborations among law enforcement, prosecutors, public health officials, treatment providers, and/or drug courts.” The full solicitation can be viewed by clicking the corresponding image below.
Welcome to the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Program (COAP) Resource Center. Whether you are a COAP grantee, a concerned family member, a peer recovery coach, or a policymaker, the reason for your visit (and the foundation for this site) is likely the same: to dedicate your time and talents to turning the tide of America's opioid crisis.
The materials in the COAP Resource Center support effective state, tribal, and local responses to the opioid epidemic. Within the COAP Resource Center, you will find:
Please visit the COAP Resource Center often; content is updated frequently.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdoses—including illicit drugs and prescription opioids—killed 70,237 Americans in 2017. The rate of drug overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone—such as fentanyl, fentanyl analogs, and tramadol—increased by 45 percent from 2016 to 2017. From 1999 through 2013, the rate increased on average by 8 percent per year; however, from 2013 through 2017, the rate increase on average was 71 percent per year. The rate of drug overdose deaths involving heroin in 2017 was the same as in 2016 (4.9 per 100,000), as were the rate of drug overdose deaths involving methadone (1.0) and the rate of drug overdose deaths involving natural and semisynthetic opioids, which includes drugs such as oxycodone and hydrocodone (4.4).
The devastating impact of the opioid epidemic is felt not just in families over the loss of lives but also in law enforcement, health care, schools, and virtually every other segment of society. The White House Council of Economic Advisers estimates that the total economic impact of the opioid crisis in 2015 was $504 billion, or 2.8 percent of the Gross Domestic Product that year. The United States spent nearly $8 billion on criminal justice-related costs due to opioids, almost entirely from state and local governments, according to a 2015 National Center for Injury Prevention and Control study published in the journal Medical Care. The nation’s family courts and child welfare system also have been deeply impacted by the opioid epidemic. According to the Children’s Bureau at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Administration for Children and Families (ACF), approximately 92,000 children were removed from their homes in fiscal year (FY) 2016 because at least one parent had a drug abuse issue. Of the 15 categories states use to report the circumstances associated with a child's removal from home and placement into care, "drug abuse by a parent" had the largest percentage point increase, from 32 percent in FY 2015 to 34 percent in FY 2016.
COAP’s strategic focus on combatting the opioid epidemic reflects the Attorney General’s commitment to reduce the number of fatal overdoses and to protect the American people. Broadly, COAP’s goals are to: (1) reduce opioid abuse and misuse and the number of overdose fatalities; and (2) support the implementation and enhancement of prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) .
COAP focuses on systemwide initiatives, as well as innovative approaches, to promote substance abuse treatment and recovery support. These concepts are rooted in the Sequential Intercept Model. The model provides a conceptual framework that communities can use when considering the interface between the criminal justice and substance abuse treatment systems. Within the criminal justice system, there are numerous intercept points, which are opportunities for linkage to services and for prevention of further involvement with the criminal justice system. The model shows the paths an individual may take through the criminal justice system; where the intercept points fall; and areas that communities can target for diversion, engagement, and reentry. In structuring COAP, BJA leaders have focused on effective policy strategies that include the following:
For the COAP site-based program, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Justice Programs (OJP), Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) solicited proposals to plan and implement comprehensive strategies in response to the growing opioid epidemic and to further DOJ's mission. The purpose of this site-based program is to provide financial and technical assistance to states, units of local government, and tribal governments to plan, develop, and implement comprehensive diversion and alternatives to incarceration programs that expand services to people impacted by the opioid epidemic who come into contact with the criminal justice system. Awards were made to sites based on the following six categories:
BJA has assembled a training and technical assistance (TTA) team focused on supporting not only COAP grantees but organizations across the nation facing similar challenges. BJA leaders know that, beyond the funded sites, agencies and communities are daily dedicating time and talents to save their neighbors and neighborhoods.
The COAP Network provides synchronized implementation and delivery of TTA to COAP project teams in the states, counties, and regions tackling—firsthand—the opioid crisis in their communities. Available in-person and virtual TTA services include the following:
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