Following the repeal of the Rockefeller Drug Laws in 2009, judges in New York State have been sending more felony offenders to drug court and other forms of treatment according to Testing the Cost Savings of Judicial Diversion, a new study by researchers at the Center for Court Innovation and NPC Research.
The study found that in the first year following the repeal of the Rockefeller drug laws, courts in New York State sent nearly 1,400 more drug-addicted offenders to treatment—an increase of 77 percent from the year before.
The offenders who were enrolled in court-ordered treatment after the Rockefeller reform had more serious drug use histories and more prior convictions than those who went to treatment before the legislation was enacted. This is consistent with national research that has documented that high-risk offenders benefit more from intensive interventions such as drug court than do low-risk offenders.
The increase in treatment referrals after 2009 produced resource savings of $5,144 per offender. These savings resulted primarily from a drop in re-offending—and from the fact that community-based drug treatment is less costly than the sentences that treatment participants would otherwise have received. These potential savings represent just the tip of the iceberg; they do not take into account reductions in victimization, for example.