The ACT’s Drug and Alcohol Court has saved more than $14 million in jail costs, even though it has only seen eight graduates, since it was set up in 2019, according to an Australian National University study.
- Since its inception in 2019, the court has seen eight graduates
- A report suggests most of those involved in the court have significantly reduced their offending
- None of those who have graduated have ended back in the court
The ANU report found none of those who have graduated so far have ended up back in court.
And the findings suggest most of those still involved in the program have significantly reduced their drug and alcohol use.
The ANU research found 106 people had been referred to the program, although only 56 of those were given a drug and alcohol order, and at the time of the report, there were still 22 participants.
Court created to keep people out of jail
The court was established to divert offenders whose criminal behavior was driven by their drug or alcohol addictions, from jail to treatment.
To get into the program, offenders must plead guilty, be assessed as suitable and sign an undertaking to be part of the scheme.
The ANU analysis of the program over the past three years showed half of the participants did not re-offend while on a drug and alcohol order, with the rest caught at least eleven.
But the report showed even those who did not complete their orders were offending less often afterwards.
It found that women were more likely to offend on the program than men, although the figures were small.
The ANU research also found offenders who had committed violent crimes were less likely to complete the program, although the report authors said that they should not be used as a reason to exclude them.
But, the report said that while the court was succeeding, its work was being held back by poor resourcing in other areas.
This includes the number of rehabilitation places.
The research showed the lack of suitable housing was also critical.
“The lack of housing many participants face is a significant hurdle to entry onto the program and likely impacts on the chances of sobriety and successful completion, once they are on the program,” the report said.
But overall the report was positive, finding the court had saved Canberra taxpayers $14 million in jail costs by diverting participants to receive treatment for their addiction problems.
The researchers said the court had saved more than it cost to set up and was deserving of more resources.