U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Treating High-Risk Offenders in the Community: The Potential of Drug Courts

NCJ Number
International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology Volume: 59 Issue: 5 Dated: 2015 Pages: 449-65
Date Published
17 pages

This paper presents a research study aimed at comparing recidivism rates of high-risk drug court participants to high-risk probationers; it lays out the researchers’ methodology, outcomes, and discussion of implications for policy and practice.


The drug court model, which integrates drug treatment with community supervision and uses the authority of the court to facilitate compliance and behavioral change, provides an innovative alternative to processing as usual. While drug courts have enjoyed considerable empirical support, research suggests that they could increase their effectiveness through further refining their target population. In particular, it is hypothesized that drug courts are particularly well suited to treat drug offenders who have a high risk for recidivism. The purpose of the current study is to compare recidivism rates of high-risk drug court participants and high-risk probationers. Using new charges as a measure of recidivism, the results indicate drug court participants had significantly better outcomes than probationers. The authors also discuss implications for policy and practice. Publisher Abstract Provided

Date Published: January 1, 2015