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Prosecution of Drug Cases: Assessing the Mechanisms That Enhance Case Processing

NCJ Number
D Braschel; D J Rebovich; M E Weist; K R Coyle; K E Lail; K Norton; J C Schaaf; N M Stevens
Date Published
263 pages
Case processing operations of local prosecutor offices throughout the United States were surveyed in this Model Drug Prosecution in Large Jurisdictions Project to determine how small and medium-sized offices handled the large volume of drug cases, what prosecutorial mechanisms were most successful, and whether certain stages in the adjudication process affected the quality of drug prosecutions more than others.
The two-stage project focused on factors that improved the quality of drug case processing. A mail survey was conducted using a sample of 412 prosecutor offices that was stratified according to geographic region and population size. The survey instrument was based on nine case processing stages: investigation and arrest, probable cause review and arraignment, prosecution screening and charging, information review and preliminary hearing, arraignment on indictment or information, omnibus hearing and pretrial conference, trial, sentencing, and postconviction. After evaluating mail responses and conducting brief telephone interviews with prospective sites, researchers selected eight jurisdictions for closer examination based on their innovative approaches to drug case prosecution. Survey respondents overwhelmingly concurred that prosecution and law enforcement efforts during investigation and arrest, screening and charging, trial, and sentencing stages had the greatest impact on the quality of drug case processing. Findings from the survey and case studies are detailed in relation to interagency cooperation, community-based partnerships, screening and charging procedures, drug courts, technical and logistical aspects of presenting evidence, police and experts as witnesses, diversion and treatment programs, and victim impact evidence. Supplemental information on drug case processing and prosecutorial relationships and the survey instrument are appended. Tables