Magistrates Early Referral into Treatment : an overview of the MERIT program from July 2000 to December 2007


The Magistrates Early Referral into Treatment (MERIT) program is a New South Wales court-based scheme targeting adult defendants appearing before a participating Local Court who have a demonstrable illicit drug problem, and who are motivated to participate in drug treatment and rehabilitation. It diverts adult defendants with primary drug problems on bail from Local Court to a three-month intensive drug treatment program. This bulletin looks at the growth of the program from 2000 to 2007, profiles participants, examines criminal justice outcomes such as re-offending and recidivism, and details the health benefits experienced by program participants.