Recovery Court sets forth clear goals and incentives to aid in drug addiction recovery. These goals and incentives must be met by the individual every step of the way to ensure graduation from the program. Strict penalties are put into place if the person does not meet the intended goals. This includes failures to appear at weekly court hearings, failure to show for a treatment session or failing of a drug test. Sanctions are implemented swiftly and in increasing severity. Repeated or escalating violations of policy will result in termination. Commission of any new felony offense requires termination.
Recovery Courts are based on negative reinforcement; the withdrawal of negative or unwanted factors to reward positive behavior. In these cases this is the removal of incarceration and/or fines for positive performance in treatment programs.
Sadly, people who are in need of treatment programs are not identified in the traditional court system. With the continuing increase in incarceration costs and the need for room in overcrowded jails, only 10% of persons who need treatment receive it in the traditional court system.
Studies regarding the use of drugs also suggest that some drug offenders utilize drugs in an attempt to self-medicate themselves for a psychiatric disorder. Individuals with mental illnesses are 2.7 times more likely to have substance abuse problems than individuals in the general populace. Individuals with substance abuse problems, particularly problems involving drugs other then alcohol, demonstrate almost a five–fold greater incidence of mental illness then the rest of the population.