OREGON ADULT DRUG COURT STANDARDS
The Oregon Criminal Justice Commission’s purpose is to improve the efficiency and
effectiveness of state and local criminal justice systems by providing a centralized and impartial
forum for state-wide policy development and planning. The commission is charged with
developing a long-range public safety plan for Oregon, which includes making
recommendations on the capacity and use of state prisons and local jails, implementation of
community corrections programs, and methods to reduce future criminal conduct.
Oregon values and relies on research findings to guide public safety investment decisions. CJC
grants are targeted to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of state and local criminal
justice systems. It is critical that public safety investments demonstrate cost-effectiveness and
derive benefits for Oregon citizens.
With the passage of HB 3194 during the 2013 Oregon Legislative session, the Criminal Justice
Commission (CJC) is charged with “serving as a clearinghouse and information center for the
collection, preparation, analysis, and dissemination of the best practices applicable to Specialty
courts and after consulting with the Judicial Department, the commission shall develop
evidence-based standards that may be applied to Specialty drug courts.”
The Oregon Adult Drug Court Standards provide guidance to best practices and are founded
upon the Ten Key Components of Drug Courts developed by the National Association of Drug
Court Professionals.1 The Ten Key Components are applicable to all specialty courts regardless
of type (e.g., adult, mental health, family, juvenile, veteran, reentry, etc.). CJC recognizes these
standards will evolve over time to include additional research and specific guidance for those
specialty courts that serve juveniles, families, veterans, and so forth.
These standards and best practices are based upon numerous program evaluations and years of
research findings.2 These standards are intended to serve as ideal expectations. Exceptions to
these standards may be necessary due to individual circumstances, local challenges, and the
specific needs of the target population. Caution should be exercised when deviating from the
standards to avoid drifting from best practice.
Each section of the Oregon Adult Drug Court Standards corresponds with one of the Ten Key
Components of successful drug court implementation. The standards provide greater detail
about each key component and include best practices recognized through research. These
standards underpin the peer review process developed in 2013 for Oregon’s adult drug courts.
All adult drug courts funded by the CJC will receive a peer review. Adult drug courts not
receiving funding from the CJC can request a peer review.
(1 National Association of Drug Court Professionals, 1997)
(2 Refers to both national drug court research and Oregon’s 2011 statewide drug court evaluation)
Key component #1: Drug courts will integrate alcohol and other drug treatment services with justice system case processing.
1-1 The Adult Drug court team shall include the following roles/agencies: judge,
prosecuting and defense attorneys, treatment provider, court coordinator, case manager,
probation and law enforcement. Depending on local program design, other appropriate key
stakeholders should be added to the team (e.g., child welfare, housing providers, etc…).
1-2 The Adult drug court team shall collaboratively develop, review, and agree upon all
aspects of Adult drug court operations (mission, goals, eligibility criteria, operating
procedures, performance measures, orientation, drug testing, and program structure
guidelines). The team shall create a policy manual and update it annually.
1-3 The Adult drug court team shall develop a written agreement (i.e., a Memorandum of
Understanding) between all participating parties and review it annually. This agreement
shall include the roles and responsibilities of all parties.
1-4 All Adult drug court team members are expected to attend and participate at each
scheduled pre-court staff meeting and status hearing. At a minimum, pre-court staff
meetings shall occur at the same frequency as, and in advance of, scheduled status
1-5 Treatment providers shall communicate in advance of status hearings and via email
between status hearings with the Adult drug court team and report on participant progress
and/or concerns in treatment.
1-6 The Adult drug court ensures that participants from groups that have historically
experienced sustained discrimination or reduced social opportunities because of their race,
ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, sexual identity, physical or mental disability, religion,
or socioeconomic status receive equal access, retention, treatment, dispositions and
Key Component #2: Using a non-adversarial approach, prosecution and defense
counsel promote public safety while protecting participants’ due process rights.
2-1 Prosecution (District Attorney) and defense counsel shall be members of the Adult
drug court team and shall participate in the design, implementation and enforcement of the
program’s screening, eligibility and case-processing policies and procedures.
2-2 The prosecutor and defense counsel shall work to create a sense of stability,
cooperation, and collaboration in pursuit of the program’s goals. The pursuit of justice and
protection of public safety, as well as the preservation of the constitutional rights of Adult
drug court participants will be ensured by both attorneys.
2-3 The prosecutor and defense counsel shall attend all team meetings (pre-court staff
meetings and status hearings).
2-4 The prosecutor shall: review cases and determine whether a defendant is legally
eligible for entry to the Adult drug court program; file all required legal documents; agree
that a positive drug test or open court admission of drug use will not result in the filing of
additional drug charges based on that drug test or admission; and work collaboratively with
the team to decide on a team response to participant behavior, including incentives,
sanctions, and when or whether termination from the program is warranted.
2-5 The defense counsel shall: review the police reports, arrest warrant, charging
document, all program documents, and other relevant information; advise the defendant as
to the nature and purpose of the Adult drug court, the rules governing participation, the
merits of the program, the consequences of failing to abide by the program rules, and how
participation or non-participation will affect his/her interests; provide a list of and explain
all of the rights that the defendant will temporarily or permanently relinquish(3); advise the
participants on alternative options; explain that the prosecution has agreed that a positive
drug test or admission to drug use in open court will not lead to additional charges, and
therefore encourage truthfulness with the judge and treatment staff; and, inform the
participant that they will be expected to take an active role in status hearings, including
speaking directly to the judge as opposed to doing so through an attorney, and work
collaboratively with the team to decide on team response to participant behavior including
incentives, sanctions and when or whether termination from the program is warranted.
2-6 Both the prosecution and the defense attorney shall perform their tasks as part of the
program eligibility and admission process as swiftly as possible, including working with
stakeholders in the legal system to shorten the time to entry into the Adult drug court.
(Each right that will be temporarily or permanently relinquished as a condition of participation in drug court shall be distinguished and explained separately to ensure the defendants fully understands what they are waiving).
2-7 The program allows offenders with non-drug charges and different levels of criminal
charges (felony or misdemeanor) to participate and does not automatically disqualify
individuals with a current charge, or criminal history, associated with drug dealing or
violence. The program only disqualifies individuals based on current or prior offense if
empirical evidence and available treatment services suggest that those individuals cannot
be safely and/or effectively managed in the Adult drug court program.
2-8 All participants shall receive a Participant Handbook upon accepting the terms of
participation and entering the program. Receipt of the Participant Handbook shall be
acknowledged through a signed form and documented in the treatment court file.
Key Component #3: Eligible participants are identified early and promptly
placed into the drug court program.
3-1 Participant eligibility requirements/criteria () shall be developed and agreed upon by all
members of the Adult drug court team and included in writing as part of the program’s
policies and procedures.
3-2 Adult drug court programs may be designed to admit eligible participants pre-plea,
post-plea, or may operate as a combination of both pre and post plea participants.
3-3 When operating an adult drug court, Adult drug courts should target individuals
classified as moderate to high risk and high need. Adult drug courts choosing to serve low
risk low need individuals, as a small percentage of the overall participants population,
should develop separate service tracks or “phase” requirements for the low risk low need
offenders so that services for participants are appropriate for their assessed need and risk
3-4 Adult drug courts shall use standardized, objective, validated risk and need assessment
tools to assess the risk and need of the potential Adult drug court candidate (e.g., LSI-R, LSCMI,
3-5 Adult drug courts choosing to serve a mixed population of low risk and moderate to
high risk offenders should provide separate group treatment services to ensure low risk
offenders are not attending group sessions with moderate and high risk offenders.
3-6 Participants are screened for program eligibility by designated members of the Adult
drug court team as identified by program policies and procedures.
3-7 Participants being considered for Adult drug court shall be promptly advised about the
program, including the requirements, scope and potential benefits and effects on their case.
3-8 Programs should strive to have participants begin the program within 50 days of the
arrest, or incident that resulted in their being considered for entry into the Adult drug court.
3-9 Assessment for substance abuse and other treatment needs shall be conducted by
appropriately trained and qualified professional staff using standardized assessment tools.
When working with members of historically disadvantaged groups, programs have a
responsibility to use tools validated for those members, where available.
3-10 When operating an adult drug court and if adequate services are available, Adult
drug courts may accept individuals with serious mental health disorders/co-occurring
disorders and medical conditions. Adult drug courts gather information from trained
medical professionals and consider accepting individuals with valid prescriptions for
psychotropic or addictive medication.
3-11 Adult drug courts shall maintain an appropriate caseload based on its capacity to
effectively serve all participants in compliance with these standards. Adult drug courts
wanting to serve more than 125 participants with a single judge shall ensure they have the
capacity (both services and staff time available) to adhere to these standards.
Key Component #4: Drug courts provide access to a continuum of alcohol, drug,
and other related treatment and rehabilitation services.
4-1 Adult drug courts should provide a continuum of services through partnership with a
primary treatment provider. The Adult drug court team will clearly identify the treatment
staff overseeing case management services who will coordinate other ancillary services, and
make referrals as necessary.
4-2 A single treatment agency shall provide the primary treatment services and/or oversee
and coordinate the treatment provided from other agencies, unless local circumstances
4-3 When possible, Adult drug courts should implement treatment readiness programs for
participants who are on waiting lists for comprehensive treatment services e.g., Curriculum-
Based Motivational Group, Motivational Enhancement Therapy, Motivational Interviewing,
4-4 Adult drug courts shall require a minimum of 12 months of participation to complete
all program phases. Overall duration and dosage of treatment for participants shall be
based on the individual’s risk and needs as determined from validated standardized
4-5 Adult drug courts should incorporate a phase/level system including, ideally 4 phases,
with aftercare being emphasized as the last phase/level (4).
4-6 Standardized evidence-based treatment programming, implemented with fidelity, shall
be adopted by the Adult drug court to ensure quality and effectiveness of services and to
guide practice. Examples of evidence-based treatment programming can be found at the
SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices’ (NREPP) website(5).
4-7 Adult drug court programs shall offer a comprehensive range of treatment services
based on the specific court type. The program shall adopt guidelines directing the frequency
of each service that a participant must receive based on assessed need. These services
include but are not limited to:
Alcohol and drug counseling
Domestic violence counseling
Assessment and counseling for mental health issues
5 NREPP website is http://www.nrepp.samhsa.gov)
4-8 Ancillary services should be made available to meet the needs of participants. These
services may include but are not limited to:
Employment counseling and assistance
Parenting education and child care
Medical and dental care
Mentoring and alumni groups
4-9 Adult drug court participants shall be matched to services according to their specific
needs. Guidelines for placement at various levels (e.g., residential, detoxification, day
treatment, outpatient, sober living residences, etc.) should be developed by the Adult drug
court team incorporating the expertise of the treatment provider.
4-10 Treatment/case management plans shall be individualized for each participant based
on the results of the initial assessment and ongoing assessments. Participants should be
reassessed at a frequency determined by the program, and treatment plans may be
modified or adjusted based on results.
4-11 Programs will establish quality assurance processes to ensure the accountability of
the treatment provider to incorporate services and training consistent with the drug court
model and treatment best practices (such as using evidence-based practices, culturally
appropriate approaches, cognitive behavioral therapy, manualized treatment, and
trained/licensed professionals; maintaining fidelity to their treatment models, and
appropriately matching individuals to services based on assessed needs).
4-12 Programs shall include a focus on relapse prevention and aftercare services. This may
include establishment of alumni groups, peer mentors, and/or peer support groups, that
encourage participation in other community supports.
Key Component #5: Abstinence is monitored by frequent alcohol and other drug
5-1 The Adult drug court program shall implement a standardized system in which
participants will participate in drug testing. Testing shall be administered randomly but
occur no less than twice per week. Testing should occur on weekdays, weekends and
holidays. As treatment dosage and supervision is reduced, drug testing should be
maintained until the participant has shown significant progress in meeting target behaviors
including relapse prevention skills.
5-2 Adult drug courts shall utilize urinalysis as the primary method of drug testing; a
variety of alternative methods may be used to supplement urinalysis, including breath, hair,
and saliva testing, patch, and electronic monitoring.
5-3 Drug testing sample collection shall be directly observed by an authorized, same sex
member of the Adult drug court team or other approved official of the same sex as the
5-4 Results of drug testing should be provided to the Adult drug court team within 48
hours. In the event the participant provides a diluted, altered or positive sample, or fails to
submit a sample, this information will be communicated with the Adult drug court team
5-5 A period greater than 90 continuous days of negative drug test results shall be required
before a participant is eligible to graduate from the program.
Key Component #6: A coordinated strategy governs drug court responses to
6-1 The Adult drug court shall have a formal system of responses to participant behavior,
including incentives/rewards, sanctions, and therapeutic responses, established in writing
and included in the program’s policies and procedures manual. The Adult drug court
provides these guidelines to team members, for use in pre-court staff meetings.
6-2 Before entering the program and throughout their involvement, participants are
informed about the types of incentives and sanctions used in the program and the types of
behaviors that result in incentives, sanctions, or therapeutic responses. The program will
allow participants to communicate with defense attorney prior to the imposition of a jail
6-3 The formal system of responses to participant behavior (incentives/rewards, sanctions,
and therapeutic responses) shall be organized on a gradually escalating scale, offering a
range of options, applied in a consistent and appropriate manner to match individual
participants’ conduct and level of compliance.
6-4 No single set of responses (incentives sanctions, therapeutic responses) is effective for
everyone. Incentives/rewards, sanctions, and therapeutic responses should be tailored to
the individual participant by obtaining information on the participant during the assessment
process and through conversations in pre-court staff meetings, and with the participant in
court and case management meetings.
6-5 Information regarding incidents of participant noncompliance shall be communicated
immediately to all members of Adult drug court team to coordinate an appropriate
response to the noncompliance incident.
6-6 Responses to participant noncompliance should come as close in time as possible to
the targeted behavior, but at most within one week.
6-7 Responses to behavior (incentives, sanctions, and therapeutic responses) must be
certain, fair, and of the appropriate intensity. All responses should focus on specific
behaviors and be administered with a clear direction for the desired behavior change.
6-8 Sanctions should be implemented in a way for the participant to understand the
consequence of noncompliance with program rules without being viewed simply as
punitive. Participants should be told what behavior the team expects of them and offered
help to accomplish it, rather than just being told the behavior they should not engage in.
Sanctions are delivered without expression of anger, ridicule, foul or abusive language, or
6-9 Adult drug court teams should come to a mutual agreement on incentives/rewards,
sanctions, and therapeutic responses to prevent conflict between team members. Pre-court
staff meetings can help the team coordinate on the appropriateness of a sanction based on
the participant’s resources and ability (proximal and distal considerations 6).
6-10 Participants are expected to pay fees (distinct from restitution owed) as part of their
program involvement. Fees may be part of existing court or probation supervision, may be
associated with treatment or drug testing, or may be a periodic (e.g., monthly) program fee.
Fees may be reduced as an incentive for positive behavior, or paid through community
service credits. Programs must work with each individual to establish a payment plan and
monitor progress to ensure lack of payment does not become a barrier to graduation.
6-11 To graduate, participants must have paid all required program fees or have a court
approved post-completion payment plan.
6-12 Programs must use jail/detention sanctions sparingly and with the intention of
modifying participant behavior in a positive manner. Jail/detention sanctions longer than 6
continuous days are outside of best practices.
6-13 To graduate, participants must have a job, be in school or involved in some qualifying
6-14 To graduate, participants must have a sober and sustainable housing environment
that is conducive to recovery.
(6 For additional information, please see http://www.ndcrc.org/sites/default/files/sibehmodtalk4.ppt)
Key Component #7: Ongoing judicial interaction with each drug court
participant is essential.
7-1 The Adult drug court judge should serve a term of at least 2 years. Longer terms are
better.7 Consistency of the judge for participants correlates with better outcomes.
Rotating/alternating judges should be avoided.
7-2 The Adult drug court judge shall be knowledgeable about the drug court model,
addiction, treatment methods, drug screening, and other related issues.
7-3 The Adult drug court team should include one primary judge and a second judge
trained in the Adult drug court philosophy and protocols to cover any status hearings during
the absence of the primary judge. It is recommended the second judge rotate through the
program for a term of at least 2 years to ensure better outcomes.
7-4 The Adult drug court judge shall attend all pre-court staff meetings. At a minimum,
pre-court staff meetings shall occur at the same frequency as, and in advance of, scheduled
7-5 A regular schedule of status hearings shall be used to monitor participant progress.
7-6 Participants shall attend weekly or every other week status hearings while in the first
phase of the Adult drug court program depending on the participant’s risk and need. This
schedule may continue through additional phases. Frequency of status hearings may vary
based on participant needs and/or judicial resources.
7-7 Status hearings should be held no less than once per month during the last phase of
7-8 Status hearings shall be conducted with each participant on an individual basis.
7-9 The Adult drug court judge should strive to spend at least 3 minutes with each
participant during status hearings, especially those participants who are doing well.
7-10 The Adult drug court judge should be assigned to the Adult drug court on a voluntary
(7 Finigan, M. W., Carey, S. M., & Cox, A. A. (April 2007). The Impact of a Mature Specialty Court Over 10 Years of Operation: Recidivism and Costs: Final Report. NPC Research: Portland, OR.)
Key Component #8: Monitoring and evaluation measure the achievement of
program goals and gauge effectiveness.
8-1 Participant progress, success, and satisfaction should be monitored on a regular basis
(including at program entry and graduation) through the use of surveys, including exit
surveys at the time of graduation or termination. Monitoring should include a comparison
of historically disadvantaged groups to the other participants, to identify—and work to
address—any areas of inequity.
8-2 Participant data should be monitored and analyzed on a regular basis per local policy
development, to determine the effectiveness of the program. Monitoring should compare
historically disadvantaged groups to the other participants, to identify—and work to
address—any areas of inequity in program access, treatment, responses to behavior, and
8-3 A process and outcome evaluation should be conducted by an independent evaluator
within 3 years of implementation of an Adult drug court program, and in regular intervals
8-4 Feedback from participant surveys, review of participant data, and findings from
evaluations should be used to make modifications to program operations, procedures and
8-5 Data needed for program monitoring and management should be kept in electronic
data systems, be easily obtainable and maintained in useful formats for regular review by
program teams and management.
8-6 Adult drug courts should use the statewide case management program, currently the
Oregon Treatment Court Management System (OTCMS), in the interest of systematic
collection of program performance data.
8-7 The Adult drug court program will work collaboratively with the state to conduct costbenefit
analysis of the Adult drug court program.
8-8 Adult drug court programs will participate in a peer review process once every 3 years.
Receiving a peer review can be included as an appropriate process evaluation (see 8-3
Key Component #9: Continuing interdisciplinary education promotes effective
drug court planning, implementation and operations.
9-1 Adult drug court programs shall address staff training requirements and continuing
education in their policy manual. Recommended training shall align with state and national
standards and practices endorsed by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals
(NADCP) and the National Drug Court Institute (NDCI). Treatment practices must be
evidence-based practices endorsed by NREPP, SAMSHA or culturally based practices
deemed effective and appropriate.
9-2 Adult drug court staff members are educated across disciplines for professional
development, cultural responsiveness, and team building. Training and education should
include topics such as the drug court model, best practices, substance abuse and addiction,
drug and alcohol and mental health treatment, co-occurring disorders, sanctions and
incentives, drug testing standards and protocols, confidentiality and ethics, and proficiency
in dealing with participants’ race, culture, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation, and
9-3 Adult drug court teams, to the extent possible, should attend comprehensive training
yearly or every other year as provided by state or national Adult drug court organizations,
e.g. the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, National Drug Court Institute,
Oregon Association of Drug Court Professionals, etc….
9-4 New Adult drug court team members shall receive formal orientation and training
administered by previously trained Adult drug court team members within 60 days of
joining the team. Formal training can be supplemented with online webinars, Adult drug
court trainings and conferences.
Key Component #10: Forging partnerships among drug courts, public agencies
and community-based organizations generates local support and enhances drug
court program effectiveness.
10-1 The Adult drug court shall establish a Policy Committee to oversee the operations of
the court and to establish a written plan. The plan should address sustainability of the
court’s operation, resources, information management, and evaluation needs. The written
plan shall include implementation tasks and time frames to ensure compliance with the
Oregon Adult drug Court Standards. The plan should incorporate the goals of participant
abstinence from alcohol and illicit drugs and the promotion of law-abiding behavior in the
interest of public safety.
10-2 The Policy Committee should meet quarterly. Members of the Policy Committee are
to be drawn from the participating agencies. Recommended membership includes: the
district attorney’s office, the public defender’s office, community corrections agency or
juvenile probation department, the court, law enforcement, child welfare, and treatment.
10-3 The Adult drug court is encouraged to organize an Advisory Committee consisting of
representatives from the court, community organizations, law enforcement, treatment
providers, health providers, social service agencies, the business community, media, faith
community and other community groups. The Advisory Committee should meet at least
yearly to provide guidance to the policy committee and Adult drug court team. Advisory
Committees should be looked to for program guidance, fundraising, resource development
to meet unmet needs of participants and other program challenges.
10-4 Adult drug courts should consider whether the Advisory Committee members might
form an independent 501(c) (3) organization for fundraising purposes.
These Oregon Adult drug Court Standards are the result of the efforts of the following
individuals and organizations listed below:
The Oregon Criminal Justice Commission
The Oregon Judicial Department
The Oregon Association of Drug Court Professionals
These standards align with the Adult Drug Court Best Practice Standards Volume 1 developed
by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals. Volume 2 is scheduled to be released
in July 2015.
For more information about the CJC and its funding opportunities, contact:
Criminal Justice Commission
885 Summer St NE
Salem, OR 97301