The Ministry of Justice says it is evaluating the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Court pilot which began in 2012.
In its latest Justice Matters newsletter, the ministry says it is the first time how well the court is achieving its goals has been evaluated. Evaluation in the past has looked at processes rather than outcomes.
The pilot operates at the District Court in Auckland Central and Waitakere and is a joint initiative between the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Health, Department of Corrections, and Police. This type of court has been run successfully in parts of the United States and Australia.
“People get very excited about them, but it’s important to see if they really work, and the timing is also important," say ministry Senior Advisors Laura Crawford and Jody Hamilton.
“The first people graduated five years ago so enough time has passed since they started to take a look at the reoffending rates,” says Laura. Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Courts aim to funnel repeat offenders with chronic drug and alcohol problems away from prison into intensive rehabilitation programmes to break the cycle of reoffending.
The Ministry of Justice is evaluating the pilot in conjunction with the Ministry of Health.
“The evaluation is in three sections. We’ll examine what the data is telling us and look at the cost and benefits of the pilot,” says Jody Hamilton.
People facing prison terms of up to three years are eligible for the programme, except for offenders with convictions for violence, sexual assault or arson.
Participants who frequently relapse into taking drugs and alcohol and reoffend, or who fail to meet the rehabilitation goals, can be dropped from the programme.
Since the programme started, 495 people have been accepted, and about 200 people have graduated.
The results of the evaluation will be reported to Justice Minister Andrew Little in May