Restorative Justice


The Los Angeles County Drug Court Program, launched in 1994, diverts individuals charged with non-violent drug offenses with chronic substance abuse disorders out of the local jail and state prison systems and into treatment. There are 12 traditional drug courts, two juvenile drug courts, and several specialized court programs staffed by the Public Defender based on the drug court model.

Drug courts employ a non-adversarial, collaborative approach and offer an alternative to incarceration to those charged with a drug offense and dealing with drug abuse issues. National and local studies have consistently found drug courts to generate cost savings for the criminal justice system, decrease recidivism, and, most importantly, help participants return to a productive life.

All Los Angeles County drug courts have a drug court team that features close collaboration among judicial officers, prosecution, defense, probation and community-based treatment providers. Each drug court program offers treatment and recovery services based on participants’ severity of addiction and treatment needs.

Drug Court graduates have a five-year recidivism rate of approximately 30%. This means that over 70% of those that successfully complete the program remain conviction-free in the five years following their graduation. This percentage has been relatively consistent since the Drug Court Program began, is comparable to rates for drug courts nationwide, and reflects the effectiveness of the drug court model. The rate is also significantly lower than recidivism rates for similar individuals who do not participate in a drug court program.

By assisting with the rehabilitation of individuals who would otherwise cycle through the criminal justice system, drug courts both enhance public safety and offer substance abusers an opportunity to become productive members of society.