The National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) today honored Gov. Rick Perry with its Governor of the Year Award for his longtime support of specialty court programs. These programs have helped rehabilitate drug users, reduce recidivism and drive down crime rates in Texas to historic lows.
"Our specialty courts, ranging from drug courts to family courts to veterans courts, provide an opportunity to those willing to work hard to regain control of their lives," Gov. Perry said. "These programs emphasize intensive treatment that helps Texans overcome dependency and make right choices for their lives. It's about helping people minimize the damage they've done to their lives. And, it's about keeping families together."
Specialty courts divert drug offenders away from incarceration through comprehensive supervision, drug testing, treatment services, immediate sanctions and incentives. By cutting down on re-arrests and helping individuals become contributing members of their communities, these programs have helped reduce Texas' prison population without impacting public safety. In the past decade, Texas' index crime rate has dropped by approximately 27 percent. Reducing the number of non-violent offenders incarcerated has allowed the state to close three prisons.
Gov. Perry has long supported the specialty court model, and signed legislation in 2001 establishing drug courts under state law and making them mandatory in certain counties. The governor also signed legislation in 2007 expanding specialty courts to include juvenile, re-entry, family, DWI and other drug courts. Since their creation in 2001, the number of specialty courts across the state has increased to more than 150.
The NADCP is a national non-profit that champions drug court programs as an alternative to incarceration to compel offenders to change their lives. The group includes judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and clinical professionals who support an approach to improving the justice system by using a combination of judicial monitoring and effective treatment. According to the organization, the net economic benefit to local communities ranges from $3,000 to $13,000 per specialty court participant, and for every dollar invested in specialty courts nationwide, taxpayers save an average of $2.21 nationwide.