OLYMPIA –In 2002, the legislature enacted the Therapeutic Courts Act (TCA). The TCA recognizes and encourages the judiciary’s inherent authority to create therapeutic courts employing evidence and research-based best practices.
These courts can remove a defendant’s case from criminal court, and allow them to seek the treatment they need to address their addiction or behavioral health issues.
HB 1524, which passed unanimously in both chambers, would expand the categories on which the monies from the Criminal Justice Treatment Account can be spent to include additional recovery support services.
“Drug courts are an important tool in the fight against the opioid epidemic. This law will increase their effectiveness in getting people solidly on the road to recovery,“ said Rep. Shelley Kloba (D-Kirkland). “I believe this measure will help reduce recidivism and improve the lives of those accessing the resources.”
Currently, for every dollar spent on drug courts, there is a savings of $2.00. The Washington State Institute of Public Policy has done a study showing that projected savings with this slightly broader definition of treatment, which aligns with industry best practices, would increase that savings to $7.60. This bill will improve life outcomes for individuals charged with non-violent drug offenses, save the state money, and make our communities safer.
“This measure will not only save lives by getting people the treatment they need, but it will also save tax payer dollars in the long run,” Kloba said. “This is smart policy that I’m proud to have sponsored.”