Specialty Court Programs

For many Texans, substance abuse and mental health issues are barriers to successful and productive lives. When these problems lead to criminal behavior the toll is high—for victims, for the offender’s family, and for the criminal justice system. Every offender sent to prison or state jails takes significant resources within the system and those offenders often return to the system again and again. Specialty Courts support a way out of this cycle by providing high-risk offenders stern intervention, intensive supervision, focused treatment, and rehabilitation. Through these court programs, offenders work to address the underlying issues that can lead to a cycle of crime. Specialty Court programs range from traditional drug courts, DWI courts, Veterans courts, family courts, mental health courts, and commercially sexually exploited persons (CSEP) courts.

CJD, working in partnership with the Specialty Court Advisory Council (SCAC) and the Office of Court Administration successfully recommended that the Texas Judicial Council (TJC) approve the adoption of the Adult Drug Court Best Practice Standards (Vol. I & II). CJD and the SCAC developed a plan to guide all registered drug courts in Texas into compliance with Adult Drug Court Best Practices through four goals: fund strategically, focus on success, build capacity, and foster accountability and proper conduct.

Various initiatives and program improvements have already occurred to meet these goals such as implementing new performance measures, creating a best practice self-evaluation tool, and identifying the major gaps and needs of specialty court programs statewide. CJD will continue to work with the SCAC to identify best practices for other types of specialty courts and to increase access to training and technical assistance for all such courts in Texas.

Eligible Funding Areas

This programs provides for coordination and treatment services for specialty courts such as family drug court programs, adult drug court programs, juvenile drug court programs, veterans court programs, mental health court programs, commercially sexually exploited persons court programs, and problem-solving court programs that combine two or more types of court programs above into a multi-purpose program designed to bring multiple types of treatment for co-occurring disorders or issues.

For fuller information about eligible funding areas, to learn more, or to review current funding opportunities, see eGrants for current opportunities.

Registering a Specialty Court

Under section 121.002 of the Texas Government Code, Specialty Court programs must provide written notice of the program, any resolution or other official declaration under which the program was established, and a copy of the applicable community justice plan that incorporates duties related to probation and supervision that will be required under the program.

To remain in good standing as a specialty court, programs must also comply with any required reporting, whether they are funded by CJD or not. Submit all completed documents to the Criminal Justice Division at SpecialtyCourts@gov.texas.gov.