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Drug Court | Alternative to Prosecution | Spokane, WA
Drug Court

Spokane County's Therapeutic Drug Court (TDC) puts drug-addicted criminal offenders through a yearlong program of treatment and judicial oversight in exchange for a dismissal of their charges.  The court is driving down the recidivism rate and saving money - and should be expanded, according to the Spokane Regional Criminal Justice Commission. 

Spokane's Therapeutic Drug Court (TDC) was established in 1996, the first local example of a "problem-solving court," which attempts to combine intense oversight, treatment and services to help nonviolent offenders change their lives. 

In TDC, felony offenders whose crimes are connected to their addictions can qualify, if they agree to the terms. 
  • Participants are drug-tested regularly and must attend treatment and check in at court frequently. 

  • If they miss appointments, they are sanctioned with community service, and the court tailors their conditions - from sanctions to incentives to their treatment plan - based on their progress.  Participants are not kicked out if they fall off the wagon, so long as they stick with the program and keep being tested. 

  • Before they graduate they must accumulate at least 4 months of sobriety, which is a difficult road full of setbacks for many.
This is a hard-on-crime approach - or hard on addicts.  However, from the judge to the attorneys to the therapists, there is a steady stream of support and encouragement.   ("County's Drug Court saving money, lives - Closing the revolving door, opening new ones," Shawn Vestal, The Spokesman-Review, April 25, 2014) 
  • Spokane's County's Therapeutic Drug Court (TDC) handles around 80 cases yearly.  (They have graduated over 600 participants since the court's inception in 1996.) 

    Drug Court has tracked the recidivism rate among its population, and the results are dramatic, according to statistics compiled by the court.  From 2007 to 2011, the recidivism rate among those who graduated was 11% in the 2 years after Drug Court, compared to 52% among those who qualified for the program but did not enter. 

    TDC graduates spent a total of 5,211 days in jail in the 2 years before entering the program, and that figure plummeted by 84% in the 2 years after.  Even those who fail to complete the program showed improvement:  The recidivism rate among those who quit the program was 36%, and the number of days spent in jail was much lower than those who qualified but did not enter. 

    The Washington State Institute for Public Policy has calculated that every dollar spent in the types of treatment offered in drug court return more than $25 in savings, in everything from crime to education to social services.   ("County's Drug Court saving money, lives, Closing the revolving door, opening new ones," Shawn Vestal, The Spokesman-Review, April 25, 2014) 
Additional Resources

Spokane County Behavioral Health Adult Felony Therapeutic Drug Court (TDC)

1116 W. Broadway
Spokane, WA  99260
(509) 477-6355
Phone and Office Hours: 
M-F  8:30 am - 5:00 pm (closed Saturday and Sunday)

If you have current felony charges pending and want to learn more about your eligibility, please contact
Matt Antush, Public Defender
(509) 477-4894

If you have other questions or would like to learn more about how to support our success, please contact
Sandra Altshuler, Coordinator
(509) 477-6355
email: saltshuler@spokanecounty.org

Spokane County's Therapeutic Drug Court (TDC) is a unique court that provides an alternative to traditional prosecution.  TDC offers eligible offenders a highly structured and cost-effective pretrial release program that combines treatment, education, and intensive supervision to reduce drug dependency and its impact on associated criminal activity.
TDC gives drug-dependent participants the opportunity to enter recovery and address their addiction, while preventing a felony on their record. Entering the voluntary TDC program offers participants a chance to regain their life, mend their relationships, and become positive, contributing members of the community. Instead of jail or prison, participants will enter a court-supervised, structured treatment based program designed to help them become abstinent and make healthier choices. This unique opportunity is based on treating the whole person by addressing needs in all major life areas. The program adheres to the national standards established for drug courts (PDF).

The TDC works as a team, so participants are not alone in their recovery. There will be occasions where other participants struggling with their addictions interact to provide encouragement and strength. The treatment team leverages the skills of many professionals to help guide and support a participant's recovery efforts. Please review the Participant Handbook for a more detailed look at the program description and to answer any questions.

The Spokane County TDC has graduated over 600 participants since its inception on January 1, 1996. View a general overview of the program (PDF), including funding sources, outcomes, and goals for the future.