Since 1991, the Multnomah County Sanctions Treatment Opportunities Progress (STOP) Drug Court has been available for most people that are charged in Multnomah County with a felony drug possession crime. STOP Court is the second oldest drug court in the United States. The objective for STOP Court is to significantly reduce drug abuse within the community. Throughout the years, STOP Court has assisted in the reduction of harm from the use of controlled substances and a reduction in recidivism within the community.

STOP Court is a partnership of the Multnomah County Circuit Court (MCCC), the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office (MCDA), the Metropolitan Public Defender’s Office (MPD), the Department of Community Justice (DCJ), and Volunteers of America Oregon/InAct (VOA).

The MCDA determines a client’s eligibility upon the initial review of police reports and informs the potential client at the time of arraignment. To be eligible, a client must be charged with either the felony of Unlawful Possession of a Controlled Substance or the felony of Tampering with Drug Records and have no other Felony, Misdemeanor person crime, Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants, or Firearm charges that are pending trial. Examples of controlled substances include Heroin, Methamphetamine, Cocaine, Oxycodone, 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (Ecstasy), more than one ounce of Marijuana, and hallucinogenic mushrooms. This list is not exhaustive.

To elect STOP Court, a client must enter a conditional discharge plea, which means that a person must plead guilty, but is not found guilty by the judge, during the course of treatment in STOP Court. Treatment lasts for a minimum of one year. Progress is monitored by the STOP Court drug team, which consists of a judge, defense counsel, a deputy district attorney and the VOA court liaison. The drug court team utilizes a collaborative approach and monitors the progress of each client. Appearances range from daily to every six weeks, depending on client progress.

At each court appearance, the drug court team reviews a report with the client. The report covers treatment progress, attendance, group participation, attitude, urinalysis (U/A) results, and other relevant factors. Random U/As are administered to ensure abstinence from drug and alcohol use. Incentives and sanctions are utilized to govern a client’s compliance. Incentives include longer periods between court appearances, earlier and shorter appearances in court, treatment phase changes, gift cards for significant progress, praise from the bench, and recognition by peers. The ultimate incentive is dismissal of the felony charge upon graduation from STOP Court. Possible sanctions include extra appearances to observe court, jail sanctions, and essays. The ultimate sanction is termination from STOP Court, resulting in conviction, jail, mandated drug treatment, and formal probation.

During the last twenty years, STOP Court has been studied many times. Northwest Professional Consortium, Incorporated Research completed a 10-year analysis of STOP Court data (NPC Research, 2007). Results included significantly reduced recidivism for drug court participants up to 14 years after drug court entry compared to eligible offenders that did not participate in STOP Court. “Overall, for the entire population of eligible offenders, the Drug Court significantly reduced the incidence and frequency of criminal recidivism for participants compared to offenders who did not participate. Including all offenders who were eligible for the Drug Court during the total 10-year period, over 5 years from the Drug Court petition hearing, the incidence of re-arrest was reduced by nearly 30%.” Investment costs in the drug court program were $1,392.00 less than the investment costs of business-as-usual (traditional prosecution). Savings due to reduced recidivism for drug court participants were calculated and totaled more than $79 million over the 10-year period.

STOP Court is dedicated to helping individuals break their drug dependent lifestyle, reuniting families, reducing the recidivism rate, and improving public safety in Multnomah County.