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Lifting the Cover on Drug Courts: Evaluation Findings and Policy Concerns

Sanford, J. Scott
June 4, 2015

Source: (2005) International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 49(3), pp.239-259.

Drug treatment courts emerged in 1989 as a court-based solution to an enormous increase of drug –related arrests. Since their inception, drug treatment courts have been subject to empirical and process evaluations to provide quantitative and qualitative data regarding their effectiveness. This article reviews the extant literature on the effectiveness of drug treatment courts and discusses findings regarding various components of the criminal justice system. It is argued that based on empirical evaluation findings, drug treatment courts have achieved success in lowering rates of recidivism among drug offenders, problematic methodological and analytical concerns. This article also presents key components and agents of drug treatment courts and discusses their impact and relevance to policy creation and adaptation. It is suggested that when combined with empirical evaluations, process evaluations provide great insight into the drug-treatment –court dynamic. This article concludes with a discussion of the implications of drug treatment courts for justice policy.


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