U.S. flag

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

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Perceptions of Drug Court: How Offenders View Ease of Program Completion, Strengths and Weaknesses, and the Impact on Their Lives

NCJ Number
National Drug Court Institute Review Volume: 2 Issue: 1 Dated: Summer 1999 Pages: 61-85
Susan Turner Ph.D.; Peter Greenwood Ph.D.; Terry Fain M.A.; Elizabeth Deschenes Ph.D.
Date Published
25 pages
In 1992, the Probation Department in Maricopa County, Arizona, began an experiment that included a post-sentence drug court for first-time felony probationers convicted of drug possession or use.
Modeled after the FIRST drug court in Alameda County, California, the Maricopa program combined specialized drug treatment with court supervision and used behavioral contracts, including status hearings before the judge, a system of rewards and sanctions, a phased outpatient treatment regimen, and urine monitoring. In interviews conducted 3 years after initial placement in the program, 29 Maricopa drug court participants offered their perceptions of the difficulty of completing program requirements. They also assessed the program's strengths and weaknesses, as well as its helpfulness in attaining their goals. More than 86 percent of participants felt that urinalysis testing requirements were not difficult to complete, and more than half felt the same way about the difficulty of attending meetings and treatment groups. Participants indicated that some of the nontreatment requirements were more difficult to complete than conditions specifically related to drug treatment and testing. More than 20 percent said it was very difficult to meet the financial conditions of the program, which included monthly probation fees, fines, and a mandatory assessment for virtually all drug court participants. While almost 40 percent felt that the drug court was very helpful, more than 30 percent felt that it was either not at all helpful or not very helpful. About 75 percent reported that the drug court was somewhat helpful or very helpful in remaining crime-free, but only about 40 percent responded as favorably in their assessment of the helpfulness of the drug court in remaining drug-free. Slightly more than half of participants said the drug court helped them comply with terms and conditions of their probation sentences, and almost 85 percent said reducing the length of the probation sentence was a strength of the drug court. Other strengths included monitoring of drug use via urinalysis, structuring probation based on a contract, drug treatment, drug education, AIDS education, attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings, and the requirement to remain in treatment longer. 17 references, 2 tables, and 7 figures


No download available