Technology can have a major, positive impact on the way drug courts do business. Computer applications hold participants to a higher level of accountability, promote communication between a court and its partners, and make it easier to evaluate results. How can technology achieve so much? Because it offers courts a crucial commodity: Information. And, via personal computer, the information is easy to access, understand and apply to the day-to-day work of a busy court.
Advanced technology helps drug courts realize far-reaching gains in the following areas:
- Information: Detailed data about each offender can be quickly retrieved and updated. Details of comprehensive psychosocials and compliance with court orders can be accessed in seconds. This helps the judge make more informed decisions, eliminates time-wasting adjournments due to lack of information and raises the court's credibility with its partners, offenders and the community at large.
- Accountability: The performance of participants in long-term treatment is closely tracked. The system captures the results of regular urine tests, as well as case notes submitted by off-site treatment programs. When a participant returns to court to report on his progress, the judge can access the treatment record instantly through a computer, eliminating the need to call the treatment program to verify information. It also puts an end to disputes about whether a urine test was positive or not and eliminates any confusion about whether a court order has been violated.
- Links with Partners: All the key players – the judge, attorneys and treatment providers – share the same up-to-date information, ensuring that everyone is literally "on the same page." Data flows quickly, reliably and easily between everyone involved.
- Outcome Evaluations: Data about case outcomes and impacts is automatically collected, making it easier to evaluate a drug court's effectiveness. This information is crucial to show funders the value of their investment, to build and maintain political support and show criminal justice agencies, service providers and, most important of all, the community how the court is working and whether it's making a difference. The data is also crucial to continually improve the system by making it easier to identify what's working and what isn't.