Drug Court Cuts Calgary Arrests, Creates Hope

Founded with the help of now Assistant Chief Judge Jim Ogle in 2007, Calgary's Drug Treatment Court has always operated on a tight budget yet has nonetheless shown a tremendous capability to reduce drug crimes amongst the program's graduates. University of Alberta researchers tracked more than twenty recent participants in this drug crime diversion program, all long-term drug users committing daily crimes to maintain their drug habits, and found that 68% had no new criminal charges or convictions two years their completion of the Drug Treatment Court program. Amongst all graduates, criminal convictions went from 794 prior to participation to only 48 after.

Only 45% of program participants graduate, a number Judge Ogle hopes to continue improving, however the impact has already been felt in the Calgary community. Inspector Monty Sparrow of the Calgary Police, who also sits on the Drug Treatment Court's board, noted that drug-related arrests and crime in general are down throughout the city.

The Drug Treatment Court is an in-patient program that combines rehab, addiction courses, and weekly or bi-weekly appearances before a Calgary Judge (including Judge Ogle), and eventually transitions participants into jobs and housing. Increased funding from provincial grants has boosted the program's capacity to 33 participants, many of whom apply directly from a Calgary Remand Centre following a drug-related arrest.

As Calgary's Drug Treatment Court and other diversion programs continue to gain traction, arrests and crimes related to drug use are expected to continue their decline.