26 September 2023

Drug and Alcohol Court proving its worth

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The ACT Drug and Alcohol Court has saved the Territory money and reduced offenders re-offending according to an independent evaluation by The Australian National University (ANU).

Welcoming the ANU’s report ACT Drug and Alcohol Sentencing List: Process and Outcome Evaluation, Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury said the Drug and Alcohol Court provided an alternative to imprisonment for offenders and offered an effective, evidence-based approach to reducing harm for individuals and protecting the community.

Mr Rattenbury said that instead of a custodial sentence, a Drug and Alcohol Treatment Order could be imposed by the Court with a team of justice and health professionals supporting participants through programs to graduation.

“The Drug and Alcohol Court is an excellent example of building communities instead of prisons and getting better results for everyone,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“The evaluation shows that this Court is having a positive impact on the lives, relationships and health of participants, reducing, reoffending and keeping the community safe as well as saving money for the community,” he said.

“The independent evaluation found that participation in the program had led to positive outcomes in psychological and physical health, quality of life, relationships, employment, emotional maturity, and hope and optimism about the future.”

Mr Rattenbury said offenders who completed their Drug and Alcohol Treatment Order successfully showed a complete cessation in offending during the follow up period covered by the ANU report.

“In addition to these positive social and justice results, the Court is also saving the community money by keeping people out of prison and instead helping to treat their behaviour,” the Attorney-General said.

“The report estimates $14 million has been saved due to avoided prison time – this is more than the cost of running the Court.”

He said the university’s evaluation report would help inform decisions around the next steps for the Court’s future, such as size and funding.

The ANU’s 218-page report can be accessed at this PS News link.

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