Montana’s adults, youth and families have benefited from the creation of nine specialty courts that are designed to more holistically address adult, youth and family alcohol and drug offender issues. Adult drug courts are currently operating in the 18th and 8th Judicial Districts, as well as in the Billings Municipal Court. The 2nd, 10th, 13th, and 16th Judicial Districts host family drug/treatment courts. Youth drug courts are operating in the 4th and 8th Judicial Districts. All of these drug courts were implemented with federal funding.
The Adult Drug Court in Bozeman has a capacity of 18 clients. The program has successfully channeled clients into drug court, secured alcohol and drug treatment for them, and assisted with their search for employment, training and housing. The program moved from grant funding to permanent county funding, based on its success in dealing with chemically dependent repeat offenders. The Adult Drug Court in Great Falls began operation in January 2005 and the Misdemeanor Court in Billings began in February 2005. Both programs have proved to be invaluable to their communities.
The Yellowstone County Family Treatment Drug Court, started in 2002, is the longest running in the state. Clients are referred to the drug court program by child protection services when their children are placed in the custody of the state. Statistics from this court and the other family courts in Butte, Lewistown and Miles City show that children whose parent(s) is involved in drug court are reaching permanency in about one-third the time as children whose parents are not involved with the court. Data also shows that participants in drug court show significantly higher rates of maintaining sobriety, staying employed and obtaining adequate housing.
The Youth Drug Court in Missoula continues to have good success with juvenile offenders. The newest juvenile drug court program in the 8th Judicial District started seeing clients in January 2006.
Community partnerships are developing in each judicial district that hosts a drug court, a direct testimonial to the success of each program.