Essential Readings

Below are several readings and multimedia resources that together serve as the foundation for the work done by treatment court programs. If you’re new to treatment courts, we highly recommend that you read/listen/watch each of these (regardless of your specific role). Together, these resources will provide you with detailed information on how treatment courts represent a departure from the traditional criminal justice system and embody the principles of therapeutic jurisprudence and rehabilitation. If you’ve been a member of a treatment court team, we would recommend that you periodically re-read these materials as a refresher.

Best Practice Standards – Volume 1

These standards, created based on evidence-based practices and proven methods, serve as a blueprint for operating effective treatment courts. The first installment focuses on target population, equity and inclusion, the role of the judge, incentives and sanctions, and substance use disorder treatment. Dr. Doug Marlowe, former NADCP Chief of Science, Law and Policy, presented these standards at the 19th Annual Training Conference in 2013.

Best Practice Standards – Volume 2

This volume of standards describes best practices for administering treatment and social services, drug and alcohol testing, the importance of multi-disciplinary teams, ideal program sizes, and monitoring and evaluation of programs. View the second half of Dr. Doug Marlowe’s presentation here.

Defining Drug Courts: The Key Components

Originally assembled in 1997, this document lists the ten elements of treatment courts that are crucial to their success, highlighting the importance of interaction with the drug court team, substance use monitoring and testing, and fostering community partnerships.

Multi-site Adult Drug Court Evaluation

Conducted collaboratively by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center (UI-JPC), RTI International (RTI), and the Center for Court Innovation (CCI), this 2003 evaluation spanned multiple adult drug courts. The 4-part report outlines the research design, key findings, cost-benefit evaluations, and explores benefits of certain practices.

Selecting and Using Risk and Need Assessments

Focusing on treatment courts targeting high-risk high-need participants, this fact sheet published by the National Drug Court Institute (NDCI) is designed to inform practitioners of issues relating to offender risk and how to measure it.

Enhancing Motivation for Change in Substance User Disorder Treatment

The purpose of SAMHSA’s Treatment Improvement Protocol series is to provide science-based processes to treatment court field practices. This installment demonstrates motivational enhancement techniques for counselors working with participants with substance use disorders.

Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide — 3rd Ed.

This treatment guide from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) addresses addiction to a wide variety of substances, the issues faced by individuals with substance use disorders, and implementation of the most effective treatment practices.

Quality Improvement for Drug Courts: Evidence-Based Practices

NDCI has combined the Ten Key Components of drug courts with proven operational and treatment methods to produce recommendations for best evidence-based practices.

Therapeutic Jurisprudence and Problem-Solving Courts (Winick, 2003)

This article from the Fordham Urban Law Journal describes therapeutic jurisprudence as a “mental health approach to law” and examines how legal practitioners, including judges, lawyers, and law-enforcement officers, are involved in the therapeutic process for and recovery success of drug court participants.