Minnesota’s DWI courts reduce repeat crimes and save taxpayers about $700,000 a year, according to a study released Wednesday by a national research firm.
The study looked at courts in nine counties created to reduce the number of repeat driving while intoxicated offenders by combining drug and alcohol treatment with the criminal justice system, Minnesota Public Radio News reported.
In eight of the nine courts, people who completed their court-ordered treatment programs were less likely to re-offend than people who didn’t finish them, said Shannon Carey, executive vice president and research associate at Portland, Oregon-based NPC Research.
Most counties with DWI courts spent less on law enforcement and jail costs, Carey said.
“If people are getting arrested – even a little less often – and if they’re getting re-arrested for less-serious crimes, then they’re spending a lot less time in jail,” she said.
Hennepin County’s DWI courts were more expensive than the normal system. According to the study, the county lost $796,717 on DWI court participants since it was created in 2005.
Hennepin County is unique in that people who fail to complete the DWI court program are more likely than people in other counties to be sent to jail, which is expensive, researchers said.
The study also found DWI court participants are most likely to be white, male and employed.
Besides Hennepin, the study included DWI courts in Beltrami, Cass, Crow Wing, Lake of the Woods, Otter Tail, Ramsey, Roseau-Kittson and St. Louis counties.
Several other similar courts in Minnesota were not included in the study since those courts were created in the last few years and would not yield enough useful data, court officials said.
The report was presented to the Minnesota Judicial Branch’s Drug Court Initiative Advisory Committee. The study was funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
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