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Drug Courts and State Mandated Drug Treatment Programs: Outcomes, Costs and Consequences

NCJ Number
Shannon M. Carey Ph.D.; Kimberly Pukstas Ph.D.; Mark S. Waller B.A.; Richard J. Mackin B.F.A.; Michael W. Finigan Ph.D.
Date Published
March 2008
196 pages
This study examined the effectiveness of the Drug Court model compared to other criminal justice models for treating substance-abusing offenders, measured in terms of participant completion rates, criminal recidivism, and cost; and determined the impact of statewide mandated treatment policy reform on the operation of drugs courts in California, with attention to the implementation of the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act of 2009 (SACPA).
The findings show that the Drug Court model had greater success at producing higher rates of treatment completion and lower recidivism rates than other criminal justice models for treating substance-abusing offenders in the community, and it achieved this with a significantly lower per-person taxpayer investment; however, the State-mandated treatment for substance-abusing offenders under SACPA succeeded in reaching a large number of eligible offenders, offering treatment for their substance abuse without incarceration. SACPA programs have had a much larger impact on the masses of substance-abusing offenders in California than have drug courts. These findings suggest that if SACPA programs incorporated some of the practices of the Drug Court model that have proven cost-effective, then this form of State-mandated treatment could be a cost-effective intervention. Drug courts could also learn from the SACPA model when it comes to expanding the number of substance-abusing offenders treated. Data on program resources, outcomes, and their costs were obtained from a study preformed before the implementation of SACPA in California (1998-1999). For the current study, data on program, outcome, and cost were collected from administrative databases and paper files on a cohort of drug court participants after SACPA implementation (those entering the program in 2002-2003), as well as on a cohort of SACPA participants who enrolled in the program during the same time period. All groups were tracked for 3 years following program entry. 45 tables, 21 figures, 49 references, and appended interview typology guide. Comparison of drug court II and felony drug court in San Joaquin County, and comparison of program completers