The Multi-Site Adult Drug Court Evaluation

NEW YORK, N.Y., JUNE, 2011--Researchers at the Urban Institute, the Center for Court Innovation, and RTI International have completed one of the most ambitious studies of drug courts to date. Funded by the National Institute of Justice, the five-year multi-site study compared participants in 23 drug courts in seven states to similar defendants who went through conventional case processing. The results offer vivid evidence that drug courts are effective at reducing both substance abuse and crime.

Among other findings, the study documented that drug court participants were one-third less likely to report using drugs 18 months after their enrollment in the program. And they were responsible for less than half as many criminal acts as the comparison group after 18 months. Largely because of these reductions in criminal behavior, drug courts ended up saving an estimated $5,680 per participant—cost savings that closely resemble those found in previous studies in California and Washington State.

In examining why drug courts have succeeded, the evaluation focused in particular on the role of the judge and the value of procedural fairness. The fact that drug court participants generally had more favorable perceptions of the judge than the comparison group was among the most important factors explaining why drug courts reduced drug use and crime.

Click here for an op-ed on the study.


Below are the links to the report.

Executive Summary
By Shelli B. Rossman, John K. Roman, Janine M. Zweig, Michael Rempel, and Christine H. Lindquist
The Multi-Site Adult Drug Court Evaluation (MADCE) tested whether drug courts reduce drug use, crime, and associated problems; assessed how drug courts work and for whom; examined how changes in participant attitudes and perceptions explain effectiveness; and analyzed cost savings. The executive summary presents all major findings.

Volume 1: Study Overview and Design
By Shelli B. Rossman, John K. Roman, Janine M. Zweig, Christine H. Lindquist, Michael Rempel, Janeen Buck Willison, P. Mitchell Downey, and Kristine Fahrney
Volume 1 provides information about the study's context and objectives; a review of the literature; a description of the research design; and a baseline profile of the 1,781 study offenders, drawn from 23 drug court and six comparison sites. Volume 1 also provides lessons learned in recruiting and retaining justice-involved offenders in longitudinal survey research.

Volume 2: What's Happening with Drug Courts? A Portrait of Adult Drug Courts in 2004
By Janine M. Zweig, Shelli B. Rossman, and John K. Roman
Volume 2 provides information about eligibility criteria, screening and assessment protocols, program volume, and court supervision and treatment policies for 380 adult drug courts surveyed in 2004.

Volume 3: The Drug Court Experience
By Shelli B. Rossman, Janine M. Zweig, Dana Kralstein, Kelli Henry, Christine H. Lindquist, and P. Mitchell Downey
Volume 3 provides information about the program experiences of participants in the 23 drug courts from the longitudinal evaluation. These experiences span judicial status hearings, drug testing, case management, sanctions, incentives, and treatment. Volume 3 also analyzes the relationship of key participant perceptions (procedural justice, perceived severity of sentence for program failure, and threat of sanctions) with compliance, criminal behavior and drug use at follow-up.

Volume 4: The Impact of Drug Courts
By Shelli B. Rossman, Michael Rempel, John K. Roman, Janine M. Zweig, Christine H. Lindquist, Mia Green, P. Mitchell Downey, Jennifer Yahner, Avinash S. Bhati, and Donald J. Farole, Jr.
Volume 4 provides findings from the impact evaluation, answering "do drug courts work", "for whom do drug courts work," and "what are the mechanisms by which drug courts work," as well as providing findings from the cost-benefit study. Volume 4 also describes the study's rigorous "super weighting" methodology as well as the implications of its findings for policy, practice, and future research.

Review of NIJ's Multi-Site Adult Drug Court Evaluation
By Michael Rempel
A powerpoint presentation highlighting the major findings of the study regarding whether, for whom, and how adult drug courts produce positive effects on drug use, crime, and associated problems; and whether drug courts generate cost savings.

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