The first statewide Drug Court in the U.S. began in Delaware Superior Court in 1997. The Drug Court Program, now in its 21st year, started in New Castle County and was one of the first dozen Drug Courts in the nation. Defendants
began to enter the program in April 1994.
Now in part because of the success of states like Delaware there are over 2,500 Drug Courts nationwide.
As of March 2011, the Superior Court Diversion Drug Court in New Castle County processed over 6,000 drug cases, in Kent County over 1497, and in Sussex County over 1,500. The program expedites cases and saves taxpayers’ money while getting participants into treatment sooner and with greater success than other methods of case management. And, incidentally, we have changed and saved a significant number of lives.
The compliance rate for the Drug Court is over 64%. That figure compares favorably with rates in similar programs nationwide even though this Court is particularly stringent about the conditions of participation and the consequences of non-compliance, as Delaware's counsel for both sides can attest. This compliance rate is double that of “voluntary” substance abuse programs.
A few years ago, the University of Delaware conducted an ambitious two-year follow-up study to determine recidivism rates and the incidence of subsequent arrests of program participants. The study's results show a significant decrease in recidivism for drug court graduates. The rate was approximately 19% as compared with 49% for those not in the program.
The Diversion Drug Court Program is a multi-agency cooperative effort. The Court acknowledges the support and hard work of the offices of the Attorney General, the Public Defender, the private bar, the counseling agencies which service the diversion program, and, of course, our own Superior Court staff.