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DHS news release

Aug. 10, 2006

Contact: Jim Sellers 503-945-5738
DHS program contact: Claudia Wilcox 503-945-5765
OJD program contact: Christopher Hamilton 503-986-7019

Drug courts to be focus of statewide symposium Friday in Bend

Drug courts, which the Oregon Department of Human Services has just accepted as a treatment practice that research supports as effective, and other treatment courts will be the focus of a Friday conference in Bend sponsored by the Oregon Judicial Department.

Judges, treatment providers, probation officers and others attending the annual Treatment Court Symposium will hear a DHS representative speak about evidence-based practices and treatment courts in the morning and participate in break-out sessions in the afternoon to discuss disciplinary visions, initiatives and barriers of treatment courts.

"Treatment courts are a sound investment to help some nonviolent offenders get into treatment, stop committing crimes and become working, taxpaying citizens again," said Bob Nikkel, DHS mental health and addiction services administrator. "These courts are an effective partnership between the judicial and human services systems that works."

The 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. symposium will be held in the Hitchcock auditorium of Central Oregon Community College, 2600 N.W. College Way, Bend.

Drug courts, which operate in 26 of the state's 36 counties, offer non-violent drug offenders an opportunity to avoid jail time in exchange for regular on-time court appearances, successful treatment completion, frequent attendance at 12-step meetings, employment, random urinalyses and other requirements.

Oregon research shows that drug court graduates commit significantly fewer crimes, are arrested far less often for parole and probation violations and result in significantly reduced costs than those who are incarcerated. Oregon Judicial Department data show that 90 percent of 2001-2005 drug court participants had no new misdemeanor or felony charges 12 months after graduating.

Last week, DHS released a survey of Oregon's 30 county-run jails that concluded many non-viole​nt offenders who are mentally ill would benefit from treatment rather than incarceration.

Topics of other symposium sessions include effective drug testing; methamphetamine psychopharmacology and treatment; and how to include a mental health professional on the multi-disciplinary drug court team that assists the court.

The 2003 Oregon Legislature directed DHS and four other state agencies to begin investing increasing shares of treatment dollars into practices that research has proved effective. So far, DHS has adopted 145 practices including drug courts using a process that includes an independent evaluation by an outside professional.

Deschutes County was among 17 recipients of recent state Criminal Justice Commission grants for drug courts. Multnomah County established the nation's second drug court in the 1990s.