The Drug Treatment Court is a specialised District Court which offers long-term court-monitored treatment, including career and education support, to offenders with drug addictions as an alternative to a prison sentence. The idea behind doing so is that by dealing with the addiction, the need to offend is no longer present. The Drug Treatment Court sits every Tuesday and Thursday in the Richmond Courthouse in North Brunswick Street, Dublin 7. The first person was referred to the Drug Treatment Court in January 2001.
Offenders must fulfil certain conditions to be eligible for the programme. They must have pled guilty to a non-violent offence in the District Court . They must also want to get off drugs, be over 17 years of age and live in Dublin. Candidates found eligible and referred to the Drug Treatment Court are first assessed in terms of their suitability for the programme by the Drug Treatment Court support team. The team may include a Drug Treatment Court co-ordinator, a Drug Treatment Court liaison nurse, a Probation officer, an education co-ordinator and a Garda working in the Drug Treatment Court.
Once admitted, there are three phases in the programme: 'Stabilisation and Orientation', 'Continuation and Orientation' and 'Reintegration and Self-Management'. Each of these phases involves following agreed treatment and personal progression plans while keeping in regular contact with the Drug Treatment Court Team. Offenders on the programme come before the Drug Treatment Court regularly in order to discuss their progress and any problems that come up.
The programme generally lasts less than a year. If offenders fail to complete the programme, they go back to the the regular District Court for sentence.
In October 2002, Dr. Michael Farrell carried out an evaluation of the pilot Drug Treatment Court programme (PDF, 846 KB).