Noting $700K in taxpayer savings, Minnesota adds more DWI courts

Author:
Updated:
Original:

A court treatment program that state officials say saves money and is effective at reducing re-arrest rates expanded to northwest Minnesota with the start of the new year.

Norman, Polk and Red Lake counties each are home to DWI courts now, the Minnesota Judicial Branch said – bringing the total number of such courts in the state to 13.

Here's a look at what a DWI court is, and why officials are touting its effectiveness compared to a traditional jail or prison sentence.

What is a DWI court?

The DWI courts are actually one piece of the overarching drug courts program in Minnesota.

The drug courts – of which there are 50 total in the state, including the DWI-focused ones – are aimed at fixing the addiction that led to the drug-related offense, the website says.

That same philosophy applies to the DWI courts.

The purpose of a DWI court is to "address the root cause" of impaired driving, by combining supervision for the offender with counseling, treatment and other services. The supervision includes court appearances and random drug testing.

The target group is nonviolent DWI offenders who have multiple DWI violations and addictions to alcohol or other drugs – people who are considered the most likely to re-offend.

So, do they work?

These types of drug courts are often given credit for having two effects.

First, they appear to reduce the likelihood that an offender will get in similar trouble with the law again (known as recidivism). Second, because those people are less likely to commit a crime, it ends up saving the criminal justice system money.

The Minnesota Judicial Branch had a national group do an evaluation of nine of the state's DWI courts. It found:

  • Six of the seven programs included in the cost analysis part of the study saved money – anywhere from about $1,700 to $11,300 per person.
  • Graduates of eight of the programs had lower re-arrest rates than those who didn't go through a DWI court.
  • Participants at six of the programs – whether they graduated or not – had a lower re-arrest rate.
  • In total, the courts saved Minnesota taxpayers $700,000 a year.

Those findings are in line with a number of national examinations of drug courts, including ones from the National Institute of Justice, the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the state of Georgia, the Center for Court Innovation, the Sentencing Project, and others.

As of 2010, there were more than 2,500 drug courts operating nationwide.

The three new DWI courts in Minnesota are being funded by a $300,000 grant from the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety.

Meanwhile, a state DWI task force is asking lawmakers for tougher penalties for offenders, the Star Tribune reports, in hopes of encouraging more people to install a breathalyzer in their vehicle.

Next Up

Klobuchar and Trump

Klobuchar reacts to report Trump plotted against his attorney general

The NYT story alleges further tactics to overturn the election.

snow, plow

Snowy Saturday: Here's how much snow is forecast in Minnesota

Snow will reach the metro area by the early afternoon.

Cam Talbot

Wild improve to 4-1 with victory over Dubnyk, Sharks

The 4-1 win gives the Wild four victories in five games to start the season.

Screen Shot 2021-01-22 at 9.08.16 PM

Daughter of MN Supreme Court Justice, Allina Health CEO found dead in Iowa

The 21-year-old was found dead in the parking lot of a sorority, according to police.

Screen Shot 2020-09-04 at 8.42.40 PM

Federal charges: MN marijuana lobbyist threatened U.S. representative

"I want you to be as scared as possible," the voicemail allegedly says.

coronavirus, masks, covid-19

Wisconsin Republicans aim to end governor's mask mandate

They've introduced a resolution to remove the governor's emergency powers.

Ted Schweich

Community group hopes to install billboard to get neighbor a kidney

A group called "Team Ted" aims to raise $5,000 to find their friend a kidney donor.

Andrew Palmer

Charges: Coach raped teenage girl on Minnesota basketball team

The 33-year-old head coach has been charged in connection to the alleged crimes.

radio station, microphone

WCCO Radio's program director leaves the company

It's not clear why John Hanson and the station parted ways.

Related