EFFECTIVENESS OF DRUG TREATMENT COURTS: EVIDENCE FROM A RANDOMIZED TRIAL*

Authors

  • DENISE C. GOTTFREDSON,

    Corresponding author
    1. Denise C. Gottfredson is a Professor at the University of Maryland Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology. She received a Ph.D. in Social Relations from The Johns Hopkins University. Gottfredson's research interests include delinquency and delinquency prevention, and particularly the effects of school environments on youth behavior. She currently directs evaluations of Baltimore City's Drug Treatment Court and Maryland After School Opportunity Grant Fund Program, both of which address important policy questions for the state of Maryland. She is Co-PI on an evaluation of the Strengthening Washington D.C. Families Program and directs a grant to work with the prevention community in the State of Maryland to increase the use of research-based prevention practices
      Address all correspondence to Dr. Denise C. Gottfredson, 2220 LeFrak Hall, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, The University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742.
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  • STACY S. NAJAKA,

    1. Stacy S. Najaka is a Research Associate at the University of Maryland Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology. Her research interests include crime and delinquency prevention, program evaluation, and research methods. Currently, she is managing a follow-up study of the Baltimore City Drug Treatment Court as well as a meta-analytic study of prevention programs and activities throughout the state of Maryland. Recent publications include a meta-analysis of the literature on school-based prevention to assess the relationship between selected risk factors and problem behavior (Prevention Science, 2001)
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  • BROOK KEARLEY

    1. Brook Kearley is a graduate student in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Maryland. She currently works on a follow up study of the Baltimore City Drug Treatment Court. Kearley's primary research interests include drug policy and treatment, program evaluation, and research methods. She has recently co-authored papers in the areas of follow-up difficulty, validity of self-reported drug use and criminal history, and the relationship between client services and client outcomes
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  • *

    Support for this research was provided by the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services and by Jerry Lee. We wish to thank the following individuals whose cooperation and assistance have made this study possible: Judith Sachwald, Thomas H. Williams, Patrick McGee, Raymond Sheaffer, Glendell Adamson, Dave Pinter, Robb McFaul, Scott Eastman, Ellen Talley, Gwen Rice, Gwendolyn Smith, Denise Smith, and John Eversley of the Maryland Division of Parole and Probation; Alan Woods, Deborah Herman, Paige Croyder, and Patsy Carson of the State's Attorney's Office; Leonard Kuentz and Gary Woodruff of the Office of the Public Defender; the Honorable Judges Jamie Weitzman and Thomas Noel; and the staff of the several treatment providers involved in the study. We also wish to thank Duren C. Banks, M. Lyn Exum, Qianwei Fu, Todd A. Armstrong, and John T. Ridgely for research assistance, and Peter Reuter, Gary D. Gottfredson, Shawn Bushway, David B. Wilson, and four anonymous reviewers for helpful advice.

Address all correspondence to Dr. Denise C. Gottfredson, 2220 LeFrak Hall, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, The University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742.

Abstract

Research Summary: Study randomly assigned 235 offenders to drug treatment court (DTC) or “treatment as usual.” Analyses of official records collected over a two-year follow-up period show that DTC is reducing crime in a population of drug-addicted offenders. DTC subjects who participated in treatment were significantly less likely to recidivate than were both untreated drug court subjects and control subjects.

Policy Implications: Continued enthusiasm for DTCs is warranted. Both sanctions and treatment are important elements of the DTC model. However, DTCs will not necessarily result in cost reductions because DTC and control cases are incarcerated for approximately equal numbers of days. Implementation fidelity is important, and DTCs can be strengthened if they engage a higher percentage of their clients in drug treatment.

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