Long-term effect of NSW Drug Court on recidivism

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Treating
drug related offenders is far more effective than sending them to prison
according to new research conducted jointly by the NSW Bureau of Crime
Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) and the National Drug and Alcohol Research
Centre (NDARC), UNSW Sydney. 

The
researchers compared re-offending rates among Drug Court participants with offenders
who had been deemed eligible for the Drug Court but not placed on it. Offenders
were followed up over an average period of 13.5 years. 

Drug
Court participants were found to have a 17 per cent lower reoffending rate than
those not placed in the program. Participants in the Drug Court program also took
22 per cent longer to commit an offence against the person.  

Commenting
on the findings, Professor Don Weatherburn, who led the study, said they were
remarkable given the profile of those dealt with by the NSW Drug Court and the
length of time that had passed since treatment.  

“It
is important to remember that the Drug Court is not dealing with people who
have simply dipped their toe on the water of crime. A substantial proportion
have committed serious offences and have long criminal records,” said Professor
Weatherburn. 

“Almost
1 in 20 of the treatment group had accumulated 15 or more convictions. Our
findings therefore show that participation in the Drug Court program can have
lasting positive effects on the lives of recidivist offenders and are a credit
to all those involved in the Drug Court program.”

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