Drug Courts are specialist courts that deal with offenders who are dependent on drugs. They emerged as a result of growing disenchantment with the ability of traditional criminal justice approaches to provide long term solutions to the cycle of drug use and crime. Drug Courts aim to help drug-dependent offenders to overcome both their drug dependence and their criminal offending.
The first of the Drug Courts began operation in the United States in 1989. Drug Courts have also been trialed in the United Kingdom, Canada and several Australian jurisdictions. The experience in courts of therapeutic jurisprudence, including Drug Courts in the United States, has strongly influenced the roles and functions of the NSW Drug Court.
The Drug Court of NSW is the first Drug Court to be trialled and evaluated in Australia. The Court began operation at Parramatta in February 1999. It now sits in the Hunter Region of NSW and in the Sydney CBD.
The Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research evaluated the program and published its findings in February 2002. These findings ensured the continuation of the court. The Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research further evaluated the Drug Court in 2008. The results of these evaluations can be found on our Publications pages.