(John P. Hernandez)
The drug court that inspired the formation of accountability courts across the country celebrated its 25th anniversary Friday.
The Miami-Dade Drug Court marked the occasion by inviting guests, speakers, graduates and national media, calling the program “the most successful criminal justice reform in our nation’s history.”
Speakers included Tim Murray, director of the Justice Policy Institute and architect of the original drug court, and David Markus, a drug court graduate and defense attorney, who spoke at the event about how the program saved his life and career.
A statement from the court said the program “sparked a revolution in criminal justice that has saved nearly 1.5 million people and billions of tax dollars” through 2,800 similar courts across the country.
The statement said drug courts refer more people to treatment than any other system and that 75 percent of those who complete the program are never arrested again. The court estimated such programs save up to $13,000 in reduced prison costs for every individual they serve, returning $27 for every $1 invested.
These statistics don’t include the many other accountability courts—such as mental health, veterans, DUI and family addiction treatment courts—that followed.
For example, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal’s interest in such programs led to sweeping overhaul legislation in 2012 that created a statewide system of accountability courts.
“Treatment does work when accompanied by accountability,” said the statement from Miami-Dade, which credited the program with reversing a 40-year trend of increasing prison population.