REENTRY COURT: INTRODUCING THE NEXT GENERATION DRUG COURT
On February 22, 2008, the prestigious Pew Center on the States released a report finding that “one in every 99.1 adults is behind bars”. Critically, the cost of imprisonment over the past twenty years has also increased four fold, from $10.6 million to $44 Billion. Prison and jail overcrowding is accompanied by a staggering increase in the numbers of offenders reentering our communities. Over six hundred thousand offenders are released each year. Within three years of release, two thirds are rearrested and one half are returned to prison.
This training is part of a continuing effort on the part of NADCP to assist the drug court field in the development of “Reentry Courts”. NADCP first became an advocate for reentry courts with the publication of “REENTRY DRUG COURTS” in 1999. As part of the preparation for the writing of that monograph, NDCI convened two two-day focus groups, attended by over seventy participants from Reentry jurisdictions across the nation. A second volume is planned for publication shortly based upon recent developments in the Reentry Court field.
In a very real sense, the reentry court is the final piece in an expanded or comprehensive drug court system, that allows us to deal effectively with those who need drug court the most, the high risk drug involved offenders sent to our prisons and jails. It is important to recognize the reentry court as a new drug court paradigm, rather than a separate problem-solving court. The reentry/drug court hybrid will optimally provide both a new level of in-custody monitoring, incentives, and rehabilitative services and a seamless transition from custody to community-based court oversight.
That, however, does not make it a new or untested experiment, but the “next generation” in the evolutionary development of the drug court model, a model whose effectiveness has been established over the past twenty years. Of course, our vision of reentry courts, as engaging offenders while in custody (as well as upon release), goes substantially beyond what exists in all but a few jurisdictions today. But the innovative reentry courts models described over the course of this seminal training, will lead the way for a “new generation” of comprehensive drug/reentry court programs.