After 25 years of reducing recidivism, cutting crime and saving money, Drug Courts, DWI Courts and Veterans Treatment Courts continue to be the foundation of criminal justice reform sweeping the nation. 

A new report from Urban Institute recently found that 17 States are expected to lower prisoner populations and save billions through innovative justice reforms including significant Drug Court expansion. As a result, our programs are now recognized as a key reason that 40 years of escalating prison populations have reversed course and are declining.

As a result, Governors across the country are now calling for more Drug Courts, improved access to mental health treatment, and support for alternatives to incarceration in their annual State of the State Addresses. See below for a rundown on what they are saying.  


California, Governor Jerry Brown, 1/22/14

"We have plenty of work ahead of us, including building more capacity at the state and county level and becoming more effective with those who suffer mental illness or who are drug addicted. But we are on the right track." Read full text here.

Delaware, Governor Jack Markell, 1/23/14

"We must place as much focus on addressing the causes of crime. Much crime is committed by people with substance abuse problems… For many addicts, it’s possible to deal with their disease successfully and go on to live happy, productive lives. There are stories like the young man recovering from a life-threatening addiction to heroin and becoming a business owner. Or a teenage girl who lapsed into drug and alcohol use following her father's suicide and landed in jail, but with assistance of a Drug Court program overcame her addiction and got a college education. We all know people with addictions who, with the right intervention, could live fulfilling lives. It’s time for us to put into practice what we already know: addiction is a disease. It can and must be treated." Read full text here.

Georgia, Governor Nathan Deal, 1/15/14

"Over the past two years, we have found ways to reduce the need to build new prison beds, whereby we will save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars and keep Georgians safer… These reforms gave us a blueprint on how to use rehabilitation to reduce recidivism. Already we have seen relief for taxpayer dollars by dropping jail backlogs by nearly 90% of what they were when I came into office… These Criminal Justice reforms will allow non-violent offenders to break their addictions, reclaim their lives and keep taxpayers from spending $18,000 per inmate for each year they are in prison." Read full text here.

Idaho, Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter, 1/6/14 

"Routinely in Idaho, people with any combination of mental health and substance abuse issues are taken to local emergency rooms or county jails when their condition or behavior puts them or others at risk… 

The Department of Health and Welfare is seeking start-up funding to develop three regional behavioral health crisis centers in Idaho Falls, Coeur d’Alene and Boise to serve area communities 24/7… The response to such programs elsewhere has been encouraging, and communities have been more than willing to join in these investments as they see declines in use of local emergency rooms, hospital beds and jail cells." Read full text here.

Kentucky, Governor Steve Beshear, 1/7/14

"Increased heroin usage demands that we take a more aggressive approach on both the law enforcement side and the treatment side… Among other steps: … -Increasing access to affordable treatment for substance abuse and other mental health challenges." Read full text here.

Maine, Governor Paul LePage, 2/4/14

"My proposal adds four new special drug prosecutors and four new judges to sit in enhanced drug courts in Presque Isle, Bangor, Lewiston and Portland." Read full text here.

Nebraska, Governor Dave Heineman, 1/14/14

"The other critical crime issue that should be addressed involves sentencing reform and punishment… There may be opportunities for our state to enact innovative solutions that ensure public safety at a lower cost for our taxpayers." Read full text here.

New Hampshire, Governor Maggie Hassan, 2/6/14

"We do need to thoughtfully consider our current policies toward substance abuse to refocus on treatment. I do not believe that a young person with a substance problem should end up in jail, prison or with a criminal record on their first offense. That is why I would support a comprehensive review of our criminal code and our sentences to consider alternative options that will focus on treatment first."Read full text here.

New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie, 1/14/14

"We will place individuals in jobs and help improve their retention. We will work directly with treatment providers to integrate employment services with treatment services for drug court participants." Read full text here.

New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo, 1/8/14

"We need to provide the reentry support and services like job training and access to key services to ease that transition into mainstream society. Reducing recidivism means less crime, it means safer communities, it means fewer taxpayer dollars spent on incarceration.Read full text here.

Oklahoma, Governor Mary Fallin, 2/3/14

"And we’ve offered increased resources for programs assisting those suffering from mental health issues, including drug abuse and addiction – helping people get the treatment they need to rejoin their families and communities as productive, happy members of society…For non-violent offenders in our prison population, we are working hard to offer treatment and rehabilitation – to be as “smart on crime” as we are 'tough on crime.'Read full text here.

South Dakota, Governor Dennis Daugaard, 1/15/14

"Nearly two years ago, our state embarked upon a review of the state’s criminal justice system. The Chief Justice, legislative leadership, and I formed a work group to study our prison population and corrections system using a data--‐driven approach. We charged the work group with three clear goals: improve public safety; hold offenders accountable; and save money…The work group recommended and the legislature passed, last session, an extensive reform of our system – the Public Safety Improvement Act.Read full text here.

Tennessee, Governor Haslam, 2/3/14

"Through our 41 drug courts across the state, we are working to treat substance abusers that want help in a way that is more productive than simply putting them behind bars and looking the other way.Read full text here.

Utah, Governor Gary Herbert, 1/29/14

"Addressing population growth also involves improving our criminal justice system and providing structure for individuals to become productive members of society…. I have asked for a full review of our current system to develop a plan to reduce recidivism, maximize offenders’ success in becoming law-abiding citizens, and provide judges with the tools they need to accomplish these goals." Read full text here.

Vermont, Governor Peter Shumlin, 1/8/14

"My 2015 budget will include an additional $760,000 to provide objective, evidence-based assessments to help our state’s attorneys and our courts determine who may qualify for immediate treatment and services, and then hire the necessary personnel to monitor their recovery.Read full text here.

Virginia, Governor Bob McCDonnell, 1/8/14

"Justice is not fully served if we're only tough on the front end, but give no help to those who have paid their debts and want to be a part of their community again. For the 95% of individuals who are eventually released, we want them to be good citizens; not future prisoners.Read full text here.

Washington, Governor Jay Inslee, 1/14/14

"I ask this Legislature to work with me on integrating care for people who are most in need so our mental health services, chemical dependency care and primary medical care all work better for patients and better for society."  Read full text here.

West Virginia, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, 1/8/14

“Last Spring we began to improve public safety and reduce prison overcrowding by passing the Justice Reinvestment Act with bipartisan support.  Since that time, my administration has rolled up its sleeves to begin implementing these reforms to build a foundation that will—over time – transform the landscape of our criminal justice system for the better… Today, I am proud to tell you since June we have reduced overcrowding in our regional jails by more than 600 individuals. We have also reduced the overall number of corrections inmates – for the first time in 16 years – by almost 300 individuals.Read full text here.