This podcast of the second episode of the "Just Science Drugs Season" consists of an interview with Preeti Menon, who speaks about drug courts from her perspective as the principal investigator and project director for the National Drug Court Resource Center, which is funded by the U.S. Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Assistance.
In discussing the distinctiveness of drug courts compared to traditional court processing of drug offenders, Ms. Menon emphasizes the centrality of drug treatment, leading to sobriety that translates into responsible living free of drug-related problem behaviors. Judges have a central role in monitoring participants' progress in drug treatment. This includes random drug testing and the use of rewards and punishments in managing behaviors. Risk and needs assessments are important in determining the needs and appropriate treatment for each participant. The interview also includes Ms. Menon's comments on the role of drug courts in addressing the opioid epidemic. She notes the importance of treating it as a public health issue and including supportive medicinal treatment, such as methadone maintenance. She notes the rapid expansion of drug courts across the country, indicating that as of 2016, there were approximately 3,000 drug courts in the United States. In answering questions about the effectiveness of drug courts, she indicates that studies have shown improved reductions in recidivism for drug court participants compared to drug abusers processed in traditional courts. Ms. Menon is also the Senior Associate Director at the Justice Programs Office, a center in the School of Public Affairs at America University. She mentions the resources of training and technical assistance for drug courts that this Office and the National Drug Court Resource Center provide.