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Opinions about court-mandated drug treatment programs in Kentucky

May 31, 2018


Adults in Kentucky who are charged with a drug possession crime may be eligible for deferred prosecution, diversion or probation instead of immediate incarceration.1 Each alternative to incarceration requires the drug offender to abide by certain rules and conditions set by the court. These conditions typically include a court-mandated drug treatment program. If requirements are completed, the offender can avoid incarceration and may be eligible to have the charges dismissed or expunged.2

Research suggests that court-mandated treatment programs may be less effective than voluntary treatment programs at reducing recidivism.3 However, successful completion of any type of treatment program can be more effective than jail time alone in reducing the burden of addiction.4

The Kentucky Health Issues Poll (KHIP) asked a question5 about Kentucky adults’ opinions about court-mandated drug treatment programs. This is the first time KHIP has asked this question. KHIP is sponsored by Interact for Health and the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

8 in 10 favor mandatory treatment programs

Overall, about 8 in 10 Kentucky adults (82%) favored court-mandated treatment programs for first- and second-time offenders. That compares with fewer than 2 in 10 adults (15%) who opposed these programs. Adults with more education were more likely to favor mandatory treatment programs.

Majorities of all political parties favor mandatory treatment programs

Majorities of Kentucky Democrats (85%), Independents (84%) and Republicans (80%) reported favorable opinions about mandatory treatment programs.
Favorability was higher among Kentucky adults who believe that addiction is a disease (86%) than among those who do not (74%). Having a family member or friend who has had problems due to drug use did not affect opinions about mandatory treatment programs.

1 Kentucky Revised Statutes, Chapter 2018A: 218A.275, 218A.14151. Retrieved from

2 When criminal charges are expunged in Kentucky, it means all records related to that charge are sealed and not visible in a records check. (

3 Parhar, K.K. et al. (2008). Offender Coercion in Treatment: A Meta-Analysis of Effectiveness. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 35(9). Retrieved from

4 Warner, T.D. & Kramer, J.H. (2008). Closing the Revolving Door? Substance Abuse Treatment as an Alternative to Traditional Sentencing for Drug-Dependent Offenders. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 36(1). Retrieved from

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