A dozen treatment courts in Minnesota have received federal grants to start or enhance their programs, the state's judicial branch announced Friday.

The three-year grants that run from $300,000 to $350,000 were awarded by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. They will fund new and existing programs in the Twin Cities and Duluth metro areas, and the Iron Range.

Drug court programs have expanded across the state in recent years as government agencies look for alternatives to the traditional judicial system for people, including veterans, with substance abuse or mental health problems. There are now 57 treatment courts, including some that span multiple counties. In 2014, the judicial branch evaluated the programs and found they reduce repeat offenses and cut long-term costs.

Another study in 2012 found that drug courts improve the chances of offenders struggling with addiction to secure employment and housing and complete education.

The federal agencies awarded $350,000 to start drug courts in Anoka, Scott, Olmsted, Roseau and Wright counties. Anoka County veterans court and Steele-Waseca drug court received $300,000 grants to improve and expand their programs.

In addition, Minnesota's Sixth Judicial District got $325,000 to improve Arrowhead Region programs, including Carlton County drug court, Range drug/DWI court in Virginia and South St. Louis County drug, DWI and mental health courts.

The state said it would start calling these problem-solving programs "treatment courts," effective next year.

Natalie Daher • 612-673-1775