Wyoming Drug Court Director Shows Reduced Recidivism Rates Among Graduates

By Victoria Kim 06/16/15

One treatment coordinator trumpeted the stunning success of Wyoming's drug court program.

WDCA officials.jpg
Wyoming Drug Court Association officials. Photo via

A drug court and DUI court coordinator in Laramie County, WY., conducted a study to determine program graduates’ rates of recidivism and found that on average, each graduate was arrested significantly less often than before entering the program.

Kurt Zunker, who presented his findings at the Laramie County Library on Wednesday, said the merry-go-round effect of the criminal justice system makes it difficult to break the cycle of incarceration, but court-supervised treatment programs like drug court or DUI court help break that cycle. “We’re getting people that are not committing any further crimes when they’re coming out of this program,” he told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle.

“The results, in my opinion, are pretty impressive. They are almost arrest-free once they graduate the program,” Zunker said. After examining drug court graduates admitted to the program between July 2009 and December 2014, he found that before entering the program, they had an average of 4.8 arrests.

During the program, the average was 0.08 arrests per individual; and after graduating, 0.4 arrests per individual. He observed similar results among DUI court graduates admitted between March 2010 and October 2014. Before entering the DUI court program, graduates were arrested an average of 8.36 times; during the program this number was zero; and after graduating, the arrest rate rose to 0.32 arrests per individual.

With graduation rates at 60% for the drug court program and 70% for the DUI court program, successful completion requires each individual’s hard work and dedication to commit to nine to 20 hours of treatment each week and regularly appearing before a judge. 

“Drug courts have been successful at stopping that revolving door for the majority of offenders that enter these programs,” said Shannon Carey, an expert on drug court programs. But Zunker says they are not being utilized to their fullest potential. “Are we using these programs to the maximum benefit in the community? Probably not,” he said, noting that there were openings in both programs. “And when you look at that arrest data—that should speak for itself.”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr