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In this collection you will find peer-reviewed journal articles, research, and findings related to treatment courts. You can search by author, year, subject, or court type; click “reset” to begin a new search. Due to copyright laws, some of these articles may require extra steps to view once leaving the NDCRC website. If access is limited, you may be able to request articles from the clearinghouse, the author, or your local library; a guide to our access labels is below. This page will be continuously updated as information relevant to the field is released.

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Consumers’ Perspectives on Successful and Unsuccessful Experiences in a Drug Treatment Court

Authors: Merith Cosden, Amber Baker, Cristina Benki, Sarah Patz, Sara Walker & Kristen Sullivan
Journal: Substance Use & Misuse

This study focused on the program experiences of 190 men and women who chose to participate in a drug treatment court in lieu of incarceration in California. Participants had committed non-violent criminal offenses related to drug abuse. The program required 18 months of community-based treatment in conjunction with court supervision including frequent drug testing and 6 months of abstinence for successful program completion. Interviews were conducted in 2007/2008 with 94 participants who had successfully completed treatment and 96 who had not. Open-ended questions addressed reasons for entering and remaining in treatment and supports and obstacles to program completion. Responses were coded using ethnographic content analysis. Factors associated with successful program completion are discussed.


Cosden, M., Baker, A., Benki, C., Patz, S., Walker, S., & Sullivan, K. (2010). Consumers’ Perspectives on Successful and Unsuccessful Experiences in a Drug Treatment Court. Substance Use & Misuse, 45(7–8), 1033–1049.

Keywords: consumer, drug court, motivation, social support, therapeutic jurisprudence, treatment


Providing Recovery Services for Offenders with Co-Occurring Disorders

Authors: Christine Kleinpeter, PsyD; Elizabeth Piper Deschenes, PhD; Jeff Blanks, MFT; Cory R. Lepage, MS; Myesa Knox, MS
Journal: Journal of Dual Diagnosis


Objectives: Providing adequate treatment and supervision for drug offenders with co-occurring disorders has been a challenge because they are usually not eligible for drug court and often fail to comply with the conditions of probation in other drug diversion programs. Here we report the results of a process evaluation of the Co-Occurring Disorders Court (CODC) implemented by the Superior Court of the County of Orange, California.


Methods: Drug offenders who are chronically, persistently mentally ill and diagnosed with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or a major depressive disorder participated in an 18-month program that provides integrated treatment. Following evaluation by a psychiatrist and the drug court team (judge, public defender, probation officer, and mental health caseworker), they are placed on medication and referred to residential and/or outpatient drug treatment. During the program they are randomly drug tested and their progress is monitored by the drug court team; they receive sanctions for program noncompliance or rewards for program compliance. Results: In the first two years of operation the CODC admitted 72 offenders. The study findings indicate the majority of participants are being stabilized on their medications, which increases their treatment stay and improves their quality of life. At 6 months the participants show advances in social functioning, decreasing problems due to substance use, and productivity in the achievement of life goals.


Conclusions: The results of the process evaluation indicate the program is achieving the stated objectives. The services provided to the CODC participants are well coordinated, offering continuity of care between the community and jail as well as extensive case management and supervision.


Kleinpeter, C., Deschenes, E. P., Blanks, J., Lepage, C. R., & Knox, M. (2006). Providing Recovery Services for Offenders with Co-Occurring Disorders. Journal of Dual Diagnosis3(1), 59–85.

Keywords: co-occurring disorders, drug court evaluation, offender treatment


A Guiding Hand or a Slap on the Wrist: Can Drug Courts Be the Solution to Maternal Opioid Use?

Author: Cara O’Connor
Journal: The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology

As the opioid epidemic has expanded its reach, the number of pregnant women addicted to opioids has increased exponentially in recent years. The increase in the number of opioid-addicted pregnant women has resulted in a drastic expansion in the number of newborns who experience Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). Newborns affected with NAS experience painful withdrawal and cost more to care for due to their increased health needs. In an effort to address the growing number of pregnant women using opioids and babies born with NAS, some states have turned to the criminal justice system. Three states–Tennessee, South Carolina, and Alabama–have criminalized maternal drug use, either through construction of a new statute or by using existing statutes for this purpose, which has been upheld in their courts. Although high courts in many other states have continuously determined that such prosecutions are unlawful, women across the United States continue to face criminal charges for their substance use while pregnant. This Comment addresses the concerns opioid addicted pregnant women pose to the criminal justice system and argues that drug courts are a crucial component to comprehensive reform. The drug court system needs to follow the lead of a recently established drug court in Buffalo, New York and embrace necessary reforms to better serve the health needs of pregnant women struggling with opioid addiction. This Comment argues the following reforms are necessary to effectively adjudicate cases involving pregnant drug use: expedited proceedings to begin treatment and avoid jailing; access to medication-assisted treatment; allowing women to spend time with their newborns; an appropriate sanctions system that recognizes the medical reality of relapse; and funding considerations that prevent women from having to pay for treatment. If drug courts are part of a comprehensive solution to treatment for opioid addiction, these reforms can contribute to better meeting the health care needs of women and their children.


O’Connor, C. (2019). A Guiding Hand or a Slap on the Wrist: Can Drug Courts Be the Solution to Maternal Opioid Use? The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology (1973-)109(1), 103–136. JSTOR.



Can Courtroom Behavior Predict Recidivism? An Assessment of the Courtroom Behavior Check List for Women Presenting in Drug Court

Authors: Jennifer M. Reingle, Catherine W. Striley, Eusebius Small, Robert Crecelius, Catina Callahan O’leary, et al.
Journal: American Journal of Criminal Justice

The U.S. criminal justice system is overwhelmed with individuals affected by substance use and psychiatric disorders often co-morbid with criminal behavior. Locally, an evaluation of St. Louis downtown municipal ordinance violators found that 49 % of offenders reported mental health problems, 30 % reported alcohol-related problems, 86 % had a history of prior arrests and 71 % had failed to appear in the St. Louis City Municipal Court within the previous 2 years (Downtown St. Louis Community Court Evaluation Report, St. Louis, MO). These compounded conditions and their corresponding treatment needs are costly and complicate correctional rehabilitation efforts. Drug courts have emerged as alternative ‘therapeutic jurisprudence’ avenues designed to reduce drug use and associated individual risk behaviors. Unfortunately, there are few evidence-based measures available for rapid, onsite evaluation of an individuals’ potential for success with drug court. A new assessment tool, the Courtroom Behavior Check List (CRBCL), was developed to measure behavioral compliance in court as a predictor of future behavior, as we believed that behavior in court would predict future criminal behavior. We found scores on the CRBCL declined (e.g., improved) among the 127 women interviewed from baseline through the 8-month follow-up, and that a poorer score predicted re-arrest for a criminal offense (OR=2.84; 95 % CI 1.20-6.69). Based upon these findings, the CRBCL may be a useful tool to measure the likelihood of re-offending among women in drug court. Policy implications and directions for future research are discussed.


Reingle, J. M., Striley, C. W., Small, E., Crecelius, R., O’leary, C. C., & Cottler, L. B. (2013). Can Courtroom Behavior Predict Recidivism? An Assessment of the Courtroom Behavior Check List for Women Presenting in Drug Court. American Journal of Criminal Justice : AJCJ; Louisville38(4), 520–534.

Keywords: adult treatment courts, court behavior, criminology, law enforcement, preparation, recidivism, women


Balancing Act: The Adaptation of Traditional Judicial Roles in Reentry Court

Author: Caitlin J. Taylor
Journal: Journal of Offender Rehabilitation

While research has confirmed their role adaptation and importance in reducing recidivism in drug courts, little research has documented the role of the judge in reentry courts. Based on interviews with participants and the workgroup, court observations, and a document analysis, this study revealed that judges in a federal reentry court program balance informal, supportive relationships with participants with more traditional, authoritative, disciplinarian roles. The implications of this balancing act for participants’ perceptions and other reentry court programs are also discussed.


Taylor, C. J. (2012). Balancing Act: The Adaptation of Traditional Judicial Roles in Reentry Court. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation51(6), 351–369.

Keywords: probationers, program evaluation, reentry, reintegration, role transformation


Community Perspectives on Drug/Alcohol Use, Concerns, Needs, and Resources in Four Washington State Tribal Communities

Authors: Sandra M. Radin, Stephen H. Kutz, June La Marr, Diane Vendiola, Michael Vendiola, Brian Wilbur, Lisa Rey Thomas, Dennis M. Donovan
Journal: Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse

Community-university teams investigated substance use, abuse, and dependence (SUAD) and related concerns, needs, strengths, and resources in four Washington State Tribal communities. A total of 153 key community members shared their perspectives through 43 semi-structured interviews and 19 semi-structured focus groups. Qualitative data analysis revealed robust themes: prescription medications and alcohol were perceived as most prevalent and concerning; family and peer influences and emotional distress were prominent perceived risk factors; and SUAD intervention resources varied across communities. Findings may guide future research and the development of much needed strength-based, culturally appropriate, and effective SUAD interventions for American Indians, Alaska Natives, and their communities.


Radin, S. M., Kutz, S. H., Marr, J. L., Vendiola, D., Vendiola, M., Wilbur, B., Thomas, L. R., & Donovan, D. M. (2015). Community Perspectives on Drug/Alcohol Use, Concerns, Needs, and Resources in Four Washington State Tribal Communities. Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse14(1), 29–58.

Keywords: Alaska Native, American Indian, Native American, participatory research, substance use, tribal, Washington state


Military Socialization: A Motivating Factor for Seeking Treatment in a Veterans’ Treatment Court

Authors: Eileen Ahlin, Anne Douds
Journal: American Journal of Criminal Justice

The veterans’ treatment court movement is just beyond the nascent period, and given the rapid proliferation of these courts in recent years it is imperative that the scientific community understand their operational procedures and assess whether they are meeting a unique need beyond those addressed by other problem-solving courts. This paper provides an in-depth examination of veteran culture and how it helps to distinguish veterans’ treatment courts from other courts that focus on similar populations (e.g., drug, DWI, and mental health courts). Using in-depth semi-structured interviews and focus group data collected from veteran participants, veteran mentors, and court team members in Pennsylvania, we employ content analysis to explore the veteran culture as a motivator for participants to enroll in a veterans’ treatment court and engage with others throughout participation in treatment. The results of this exploratory study suggest that a shared culture serves to motivate justice-involved veterans to seek out the veterans’ treatment court over other treatment options and remain engaged in this problem-solving court, while inspiring a sense of obligation to do well in treatment for them and their fellow veterans. The shared experiences of military service and across-the-board support for fellow service members suggest that the veterans’ treatment court creates a unique environment for pursuing treatment.


Ahlin, E. M., & Douds, A. S. (2016). Military Socialization: A Motivating Factor for Seeking Treatment in a Veterans’ Treatment Court. American Journal of Criminal Justice, 41(1), 83–96., 14(1), 29–58.

Keywords: justice-involved veterans, problem-solving courts, treatment motivation, veterans treatment courts


A Multi-Site Study of the Use of Sanctions and Incentives in Mental Health Courts

Authors: Lisa Callahan, Henry J. Steadman, Sheila Tillman, Roumen Vesselinov
Journal: Law and Human Behavior

Mental health courts (MHCs) have become widespread in the United States as a form of diversion for justice-involved individuals with mental illness. Sanctions and incentives are considered crucial to the functioning of MHCs and drug courts, yet with little empirical guidance to support or refute their use, and there are no definitions of what they are. The use of sanctions and to a lesser degree incentives is the focus of this article, with particular emphasis on jail sanctions. Subjects are participants (n = 447) in four MHCs across the United States. Results show that jail sanctions are used in three of four MHCs, and other sanctions are similarly used across the four MHCs. Participants charged with ‘person crimes’ are the least likely to receive any sanctions, including jail, whereas those charged with drug offenses are most often sanctioned. The factors associated with receiving a jail sanction are recent drug use, substance use diagnosis, and drug arrests; being viewed as less compliant with court conditions, receiving more bench warrants, and having more in-custody hearings; and MHC program termination. No personal characteristics are related to receiving sanctions. Knowing which MHC participants are more likely to follow court orders and avoid sanctions, and identifying those who have difficulty adhering to court conditions, can help guide court officials on adjusting supervision, perhaps avoiding reoffending and program failure.


Callahan, L., Steadman, H. J., Vesselinov, R., & Vesselinov, R. (2013). A multi-site study of the use of sanctions and incentives in mental health courts. Law and Human Behavior37(1), 1–9.

Keywords: adjudication, incentives, mental health, mental health courts, sanctions


A Randomized Pilot Study of the Engaging Moms Program for Family Drug Court

Authors: Gayle A. Dakof, Jeri B. Cohen, Craig E. Henderson, Eliette Duarte, Maya Boustani, Audra Blackburna, Ellen Venzer, Sam Hawes
Journal: Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment

In response to the need for effective drug court interventions, the effectiveness of the Engaging Moms Program (EMP) versus Intensive Case Management Services (ICMS) on multiple outcomes for mothers enrolled in family drug court was investigated. In this intent-to-treat study, mothers (N = 62) were randomly assigned to either usual drug court care or the Engaging Moms drug court program. Mothers were assessed at intake and 3, 6, 12, and 18 months following intake. Results indicated that at 18 months post drug court enrollment, 77% of mothers assigned to EMP versus 55% of mothers assigned to ICMS had positive child welfare dispositions. There were statistically significant time effects for both intervention groups on multiple outcomes including substance use, mental health, parenting practices, and family functioning. EMP showed equal or better improvement than ICMS on all outcomes. The results suggest that EMP in family drug court is a viable and promising intervention approach to reduce maternal addiction and child maltreatment.


Dakof, G. A., Cohen, J. B., Henderson, C. E., Duarte, E., Boustani, M., Blackburn, A., Venzer, E., & Hawes, S. (2010). A randomized pilot study of the Engaging Moms Program for family drug court. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment38(3), 263–274.

Keywords: addiction, child maltreatment, drug courts, women


Medication Assisted Treatment in US Drug Courts: Results from a Nationwide Survey of Availability, Barriers and Attitudes

Authors: Harlan Matusow, MA; Samuel L. Dickman, AB; Josiah D. Rich, MD, MPH; Chunki Fong, MS; Dora M. Dumont, PhD, MPH; Carolyn Hardin, MPA; Douglas Marlowe, JD, PhD; Andrew Rosenblum, PhD
Journal: Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment

Drug treatment courts are an increasingly important tool in reducing the census of those incarcerated for non-violent drug offenses; medication assisted treatment (MAT) is proven to be an effective treatment for opioid addiction. However, little is known about the availability of and barriers to MAT provision for opioid-addicted people under drug court jurisdiction. Using an online survey, we assessed availability, barriers, and need for MAT (especially agonist medication) for opioid addiction in drug courts. Ninety-eight percent reported opioid-addicted participants, and 47% offered agonist medication (56% for all MAT including naltrexone). Barriers included cost and court policy. Responses revealed significant uncertainty, especially among non-MAT providing courts. Political, judicial and administrative opposition appear to affect MAT’s inconsistent use and availability in drug court settings. These data suggest that a substantial, targeted educational initiative is needed to increase awareness of the treatment and criminal justice benefits of MAT in the drug courts.


Matusow, H., Dickman, S. L., Rich, J. D., Fong, C., Dumont, D. M., Hardin, C., Marlowe, D., & Rosenblum, A. (2013). Medication assisted treatment in US drug courts: Results from a nationwide survey of availability, barriers and attitudes. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment44(5), 473–480.

Keywords: buprenorphine, drug courts, medication-assisted treatment, methadone, naltrexone


Diversion of Veterans With Criminal Justice Involvement to Treatment Courts: Participant Characteristics and Outcomes

Authors: Jack Tsai, Bessie Flatley, Wesley J. Kasprow, Sean Clark, Andrea Finlay
Journal: Psychiatric Services

Objective: This study compared characteristics and outcomes between veterans who participated in veterans treatment courts (VTCs) and veterans involved in criminal justice who participated in other treatment courts (TCs) or who participated in neither VTCs or TCs.


Methods: Data from 22,708 veterans (N=8,083 VTC participants, 680 participants in other TCs [other-TC participants], and 13,945 participants in neither VTCs nor TCs [non-TC participants]) in the Veterans Justice Outreach (VJO) program were analyzed by using multilevel regression models.


Results: VTC participants were more likely than other VJO participants to have served in Iraq or Afghanistan, but there were no sociodemographic disparities in access to VTCs. VTC participants were more likely than non-TC participants to have drug or public-order offenses, and they were more likely than other-TC participants to have DUI offenses. VTC participants had better independent housing outcomes than other VJO participants, and they had better employment outcomes than non-TC participants. However, VTC and other-TC participants were also more likely to have jail sanctions and new incarcerations compared with non-TC participants.


Conclusions: VTCs are a growing service model that serves a broad group of veterans with a range of criminal offenses. Although VTCs show moderate benefits in housing and employment, specialized services are needed to reduce recidivism and maximize these benefits.


Tsai, J., Flatley, B., Kasprow, W. J., Clark, S., & Finlay, A. (2016). Diversion of Veterans With Criminal Justice Involvement to Treatment Courts: Participant Characteristics and Outcomes. Psychiatric Services68(4), 375–383.



Catch, Treat, and Release: Veteran Treatment Courts Address the Challenges of Returning Home

Authors: Michelle Slattery, Mallory Tascha Dugger, Theodore A. Lamb, Laura Williams
Journal: Substance Use & Misuse

After a decade of war, there is a great need for treatment and alternatives to incarceration for justice-involved veterans. U.S. military service members are returning from combat with substantial mental health challenges, which increase the potential for justice involvement. Veteran Treatment Courts are starting across the nation to meet this need for therapeutic justice. These problem solving courts provide access to treatment and motivation for engagement. Preliminary evidence from a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration-funded evaluation suggests that significant improvements in posttraumatic stress disorder and substance use are just a few of the positive outcomes that these courts may help veterans achieve.


Slattery, M., Dugger, M. T., Lamb, T. A., & Williams, L. (2013). Catch, Treat, and Release: Veteran Treatment Courts Address the Challenges of Returning Home. Substance Use & Misuse48(10), 922–932.

Keywords: employment, housing, justice, OEF, OIF, ptsd, SAMHSA, substance abuse, TBI, US military, veterans treatment court


A Specialized Treatment Court for Veterans with Trauma Exposure: Implications for the Field

Authors: Kraig J. Knudsen, Scott Wingenfeld
Journal: Community Mental Health Journal

This study examines the efficacy of providing a Veterans Treatment Court specialized docket to trauma-affected veterans. Eighty-Six veterans enrolled in a jail diversion and trauma recovery Veterans Treatment Court program. Veteran participants were interviewed at baseline, 6- and 12-months to determine if the program led to improvements in jail recidivism, psychiatric symptoms, quality of life, and recovery. The results suggest that veteran’s involved in the Veterans Treatment Court programs experienced significant improvement in PTSD, depression, substance abuse, overall functioning, emotional wellbeing, relationships with others, recovery status, social connectedness, family functioning, and sleep.


Knudsen, K. J., & Wingenfeld, S. (2016). A Specialized Treatment Court for Veterans with Trauma Exposure: Implications for the Field. Community Mental Health Journal; New York52(2), 127–135.

Keywords: combat exposure, outcomes, ptsd, specialized docket, trauma, veterans, veterans treatment court


A National Study of Veterans Treatment Court Participants: Who Benefits and Who Recidivates

Authors: Jack Tsai, Andrea Finlay, Bessie Flatley, Wesley J. Kasprow
Journal: Substance Use & Misuse

Although there are now over 400 veterans treatment courts (VTCs) in the country, there have been few studies on participant outcomes in functional domains. Using national data on 7931 veterans in the Veterans Affairs (VA) Veterans Justice Outreach program across 115 VA sites who entered a VTC from 2011 to 2015, we examined the housing, employment, income, and criminal justice outcomes of VTC participants; and identified veteran characteristics predictive of outcomes. VTC participants spent an average of nearly a year in the program and 14% experienced a new incarceration. From program admission to exit, 10% more participants were in their own housing, 12% more were receiving VA benefits, but only 1% more were employed. Controlling for background characteristics, a history of incarceration predicted poor criminal justice, housing, and employment outcomes. Participants with property offenses or probation/parole violations and those with substance use disorders were more likely to experience a new incarceration. Participants with more mental health problems were more likely to be receiving VA benefits and less likely to be employed at program exit. Together, these findings highlight the importance of proper substance abuse treatment as well as employment services for VTC participants so that they can benefit from the diversion process.


Tsai, J., Finlay, A., Flatley, B., Kasprow, W. J., & Clark, S. (2018). A National Study of Veterans Treatment Court Participants: Who Benefits and Who Recidivates. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research; New York45(2), 236–244.

Keywords: criminal justice, homelessness, incarceration, treatment courts, veterans


A Three-Stage Model for Mental Health Treatment Court: A Qualitative Analysis of Graduates’ Perspectives

Authors: Lee Ann Eschbach, Rebecca Spirito Dalgin, Elizabeth Pantucci
Journal: Community Mental Health Journal

Mental Health Treatment Courts (MHTC) address the overrepresentation of individuals with mental health disorders in the criminal justice system and strive to minimize the “revolving door” cycle of arrest/incarceration/release/re-arrest. A qualitative research group interview design was conducted with program graduates resulting in a three-stage model. Participant’s motivation was initially to avoid jail, but over time participants begin to make intentional choices leading to mental health recovery. Participants also described the importance of their relationship with the staff and the judge as well as the need for trust, understanding, and respect throughout the program. Recommendations for future research and program development are discussed.


Eschbach, L. A., Dalgin, R. S., & Pantucci, E. (2019). A Three-Stage Model for Mental Health Treatment Court: A Qualitative Analysis of Graduates’ Perspectives. Community Mental Health Journal; New York55(4), 590–598.

Keywords: empowerment, mental illness and incarceration, psychiatric rehabilitation, recovery, treatment courts


Criminogenic Factors Associated with Noncompliance and Rearrest of Mental Health Court Participants

Authors: Laura Honegger, Kyle Honegger
Journal: Criminal Justice and Behavior

There is a considerable overrepresentation of individuals with mental health issues within the U.S. criminal justice system as compared with the general population. Mental health courts (MHCs) arose in response to this concern, with a primary aim of reducing recidivism. Thus far, MHC research has largely neglected the potential utility of criminogenic factors. A retrospective analysis of 163 MHC participants was conducted to examine the association between clinical and criminogenic factors and noncompliance, as well as for recidivism, using a series of Bayesian negative binomial regression models to compare predictors. Criminogenic factors, namely first offending prior to the age of 18, having a substance-related diagnosis, commission of a variety of crimes, historical probation or parole violation, and having less than a high school education were associated with an increased rate of engaging in noncompliant behavior and rearrest. None of the clinical factors were directly associated with noncompliance or rearrest outcomes.


Honegger, L. N., & Honegger, K. S. (2019). Criminogenic factors associated with noncompliance and rearrest of mental health court participants. Criminal Justice and Behavior46(9), 1276–1294.

Keywords: adjudication, bench warrants, clinical models, criminal justice, criminogenic risk factors, jail sanctions, mental disorders, mental health court, models, noncompliance, rearrest, recidivism, statistical probability


The Impact of Community Treatment on Recidivism Among Mental Health Court Participants

Authors: Woojae Han, Allison D. Redlich
Journal: Psychiatric Services

Objective: A core component of mental health courts (MHCs) is the provision of community treatment in order to reduce arrests. However, research on the components of treatment received by MHC participants is rare. This study examined the impact of community treatment on arrests in an MHC sample (N=357) and a sample from the traditional criminal justice system (N=384).


Methods: Data were from the MacArthur MHC Project, which includes objective and subjective information from four MHCs with comparison samples at each site. Interview data were collected for six months before and six months after entry into the MHC or legal system. National data from arrest records over one year were also obtained. Treatment-related variables were compliance (appointments and medication), perceptions (motivation and perceived voluntariness), and use of nine types of community treatment. A fixed-effects regression controlled for selection bias between groups.


Results: The regression model indicated significant increases in treatment motivation and use of community mental health and substance abuse services among MHC participants, compared with treatment-as-usual participants; however, the perceived voluntariness of treatment decreased in the MHC group. For the treatment-as-usual group, none of the treatment variables were associated with future arrest. For the MHC group, increased medication compliance and use of mental health services were associated with a significant decrease in arrests.


Conclusions: Consistent with the MHC goals, findings indicated increases in receipt of community treatment among MHC participants. For the MHC sample, but not the treatment-as-usual sample, increased treatment was associated with reduced recidivism.


Han, W., & Redlich, A. D. (2015). The Impact of Community Treatment on Recidivism Among Mental Health Court Participants. Psychiatric Services67(4), 384–390.



More of the Same? Treatment in Mental Health Courts

Author: Mary Lee Luskin
Journal: Law and Human Behavior

Despite the centrality of community treatment to the identity and mission of mental health courts, research on what treatment is actually provided by mental health courts is scarce. Using longitudinal interview data from a large, well-established mental health court, this study describes the context, amount, and types of treatment for 82 mental health court participants (MHC) and a matched sample of 89 defendants (TAU) who underwent regular criminal court processing. The study compared treatment from the period 6 months prior to entry into the mental health court or arrest to that at a 6-month follow-up. Multivariate analyses were used to estimate the effect of mental health court participation on the amount of outpatient treatment, controlling for demographic, clinical, and legal variables. The research found that mental health court participation increased the frequency of outpatient treatment, but that social services and treatment specialized to address criminal risk factors were uncommon both at the baseline and at the 6-month follow-up. At the baseline, a majority of both samples reported that they had received outpatient treatment, but the MHC sample reported more frequent and more varied treatment. At the 6-month follow-up, the differences between the 2 samples were greater, with the wider gap resulting not only from improvements in the MHC but also from deterioration in the treatment status of the TAU sample.


Luskin, M. L. (2013). More of the same? Treatment in mental health courts. Law and Human Behavior37(4), 255–266.

Keywords: adjudication, court referrals, court-monitored treatment, justice system, mental health, mental health courts, mental health services, mentally ill offenders, treatment


Mental Health Courts and the Complex Issue of Mentally Ill Offenders

Authors: Amy Watson, Patricia Hanrahan, Daniel J. Luchins, Arthur J. Lurigio
Journal: Psychiatric Services

Mental health courts are emerging in communities across the country to address the growing number of individuals with serious mental illness in jails and the complex issues they present to the courts. Based on concepts of therapeutic jurisprudence and patterned after drug courts, mental health courts attempt to prevent criminalization and recidivism by providing critical mental health services. The authors describe mental health courts in Broward County, Florida; King County, Washington; Anchorage, Alaska; and Marion County, Indiana. Each of these courts is designed to meet the specific needs and resources of its jurisdiction. The courts’ experiences suggest that involving all players from the beginning is essential. The authors discuss the issues of due process, availability of services, and control of resources, which must be addressed before mental health courts are widely implemented.


Watson, A., Hanrahan, P., Luchins, D., & Lurigio, A. (2001). Mental Health Courts and the Complex Issue of Mentally Ill Offenders. Psychiatric Services52(4), 477–481.



Why do Mental Health Courts Work? A Confluence of Treatment, Support & Adroit Judicial Supervision

Authors: Michelle Edgely
Journal: International Journal of Law and Psychiatry

The article contributes to the understanding of ‘what works’ in mental health courts (MHCs). There are now almost 400 MHCs in the US and more worldwide. A substantial body of evidence demonstrates that MHCs can succeed in reducing recidivism among offenders who suffer mental disorders. This article argues that MHCs succeed when they have achieved the right confluence of essential elements, including providing evidence-based treatment and psychosocial supports and using adroit judge-craft. After a brief review of some of the studies demonstrating MHC success, this article discusses the research into the necessary foundations of rehabilitation programs. It is argued that, although treatment and psychosocial services should be supplied within an evidence-based framework, neither of the two leading conceptual models – Risk–Needs–Responsivity and the Good Lives Model – are empirically proven with offenders who suffer from mental disorders. Despite the absence of proof, the Good Lives Model is argued to be appropriate for MHCs because it is normatively consonant with therapeutic jurisprudence. The MHC judge is another essential element. The judicial role is assayed to elucidate how it functions to promote the rehabilitation of offenders with mental disorders. It is argued that the role of the MHC judge during supervisory status hearings is to establish a therapeutic alliance and practice motivational psychology with each MHC participant.


Edgely, M. (2014). Why do mental health courts work? A confluence of treatment, support & adroit judicial supervision. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry37(6), 572–580.

Keywords: mental health courts, offender rehabilitation, offenders with mental illness, problem-solving courts, problem-solving judges


Drug Courts and Mental Health Courts: Implications for Social Work

Authors: Sabrina W. Tyuse, Donald M. Linhorst
Journal: Health & Social Work

In recent years communities across the United States have instituted specialized criminal courts for defendants with substance abuse disorders and mental illness. These specialized courts seek to prevent incarceration and facilitate community-based treatment for offenders, while at the same time protecting public safety. The authors describe two types of specialized courts: drug courts and mental health courts. They critically examine the strengths and weaknesses of these courts and conclude with implications for social work education, practice, research, and advocacy.


Tyuse, S. W., & Linhorst, D. M. (2005). Drug Courts and Mental Health Courts: Implications for Social Work. Health & Social Work30(3), 233–240.

Keywords: drug courts, mental health courts, mental illness, specialized courts, substance abuse


Fighting America’s Highest Incarceration Rates with Offender Programming: Process Evaluation Implications from the Louisiana 22nd Judicial District Reentry Court

Authors: J. Mitchell Miller, David N. Khey
Journal: American Journal of Criminal Justice

Reentry programs, when adequately funded and delivered with fidelity, can render recidivism reduction and other positive outcomes such as abstinence and employment stability. This paper reports process evaluation findings for the Louisiana 22nd Judicial District Reentry Court program, a joint SAMHSA/BJA-sponsored multiphase programming intervention for high-risk/high-need offenders featuring job readiness training in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola and transition services during reentry, including program engagement, job placement, and treatment services continuation in the community under strict judicial supervision. Research procedures entailed 1) observation of court appearances, treatment team meetings, educational activities, and counseling sessions, 2) review of all program participant case files enabling progress tracking, and 3) in-depth and focus group interviews with program stakeholders both at Angola and post-release in community settings. Findings relate the evidence based nature and quality of services delivery to date, as well as fidelity demonstrated across major programmatic domains. Program improvement opportunities, outcome evaluation implications, and performance measures signaling early success center discussion around vanguard elements of the court and evaluation design, respectively.


Miller, J. M., & Khey, D. N. (2017). Fighting America’s Highest Incarceration Rates with Offender Programming: Process Evaluation Implications from the Louisiana 22nd Judicial District Reentry Court. American Journal of Criminal Justice : AJCJ; Louisville, 42(3), 574–588.

Keywords: offender programming, program fidelity, reentry court


The Supervision to Aid Reentry (STAR) Programme: Enhancing the Social Capital of Ex-offenders

Author: Caitlin J. Taylor
Journal: Probation Journal

This article explores a central finding from a process evaluation of a federal reentry court programme entitled the Supervision to Aid Reentry (STAR) programme in Philadelphia, PA, USA. Using inductive and deductive analyses, results revealed that the STAR programme helps participants build social capital by encouraging family involvement as well as the development of relationships among programme participants. Family involvement and relationships among participants were found to offer participants social and emotional support as well as access to felon-friendly employment opportunities.


Taylor, C. J. (2013). The Supervision to Aid Reentry (STAR) programme: Enhancing the social capital of ex-offenders. Probation Journal60(2), 119–135.

Keywords: courts, desistance, probation, relationships, supervision


Judicial Perspectives on Family Drug Treatment Courts

Authors: Judge Leonard P. Edwards, Judge James A. Ray
Journal: Juvenile and Family Court Journal

Family Drug Treatment Courts are a specialized calendar or docket that operates within the juvenile dependency court. These courts provide the setting for a collaborative effort by the court and all the participants in the child protection system to come together in a non-adversarial setting to determine the individual treatment needs of substance-abusing parents whose children are under the jurisdiction of the dependency court. This article is intended to give judges and others a judicial perspective on FDTCs, and to offer some assistance for those who are operating or who are considering creating one.


Edwards, J. L. P., & Ray, J. J. A. (2005). Judicial Perspectives on Family Drug Treatment Courts. Juvenile and Family Court Journal56(3), 1–27.



Therapeutic Jurisprudence in Practice: Changes in Family Treatment Court Norms Over Time

Author: Suzanna Fay-Ramirez
Journal: Law & Social Inquiry

Family treatment court (FTC) is an example of an increasing number of problem-centered courts currently operating in the United States. Problem-centered courts such as FTC encompass the ideas of therapeutic jurisprudence but operate within the broader court system. Presented are the results of an FTC case study that seeks to understand the evolution of courtroom norms and practice over time. Observations of courtroom interactions and interviews with courtroom personnel show that initial observations are consistent with the ideals of therapeutic jurisprudence. However, over time, daily demands and pressures on the courtroom undermine the therapeutic approach.


Fay‐Ramirez, S. (2015). Therapeutic Jurisprudence in Practice: Changes in Family Treatment Court Norms Over Time. Law & Social Inquiry40(1), 205–236.



Convicted Driving-While-Impaired Offenders’ Views on Effectiveness of Sanctions and Treatment

Authors: Sandra Lapham, Elizabeth England-Kennedy
Journal: Qualitative Health Research

In this article we analyze qualitative data from a multiple-method, longitudinal study drawn from 15-year follow-up interviews with a subsample of 82 individuals arrested for driving while intoxicated in a southwestern state (1989–1995). We explore reactions to the arrest and court-mandated sanctions, including legal punishments, mandated interventions, and/or participation in programs aimed at reducing recidivism. Key findings include experiencing certain negative emotional reactions to the arrest, reactions to being jailed, experiencing other court-related sanctions as deterring driving-while-intoxicated behavior, and generally negative opinions regarding court-mandated interventions. We discuss interviewees’ complex perspectives on treatment and program participation and their effects on lessening recidivism, and we offer suggestions for reducing recidivism based on our findings.


Lapham, S., & England-Kennedy, E. (2011). Convicted Driving-While-Impaired Offenders’ Views on Effectiveness of Sanctions and Treatment. Qualitative Health Research.

Keywords: addiction, alcohol, alcoholism, behavior, comparative analysis, intervention programs, risk, substance abuse


What Do Clients Achieve in Drug/DUI Court? Examining Intended and Unintended Outcomes

Authors: Bin Liang, Michael A. Long, J. David Knottnerus
Journal: Justice System Journal

Compared to a growing number of quantitative studies that focus on evaluating drug/DUI court process (e.g., retention) and outcomes (e.g., reducing recidivism), very few studies qualitatively and systematically examine clients’ perceptions and experiences in these programs. Based on content analysis of 229 letters written by clients to Tulsa County DUI and drug programs in Oklahoma, this study examines the potential (mis)match between the stated official goals of the program and major achievements and progress self-reported by clients. Our analysis shows that in addition to abstinence, compliance, and techniques for success, a significant portion of clients’ achievements went beyond the administrative expectations. Rather, the program transformed clients’ lives in a holistic way and affected diverse aspects of their lives. These findings should encourage the legislature and practitioners to look beyond drug/DUI court supervision/discipline in evaluating clients’ progress and to incorporate elements reported by clients in building a more successful program.


Liang, B., Long, M. A., & Knottnerus, J. D. (2016). What Do Clients Achieve in Drug/DUI Court? Examining Intended and Unintended Outcomes. Justice System Journal; Williamsburg37(3), 272-289,292.

Keywords: court administration, criminal justice, specialized courts


A National Survey of U.S. Juvenile Mental Health Courts

Authors: Lisa Callahan, Joseph Cocozza, Henry J. Steadman, Sheila Tillman
Journal: Psychiatric Services

Objective: The authors surveyed U.S. juvenile mental health courts (JMHCs).


Methods: Forty-one were identified in 15 states, and 34 returned surveys; one was completed on the basis of published information. Topics included the court’s history, youths served, inclusion and exclusion criteria, the court process, and services provided.


Results: Half (51%) reported that the juvenile court was responsible for the program; for 11% the probation agency had the responsibility, and 17% reported shared responsibility by these entities. Fifty-one percent reported that all youths with any mental disorder diagnosis are eligible. The most commonly reported participant diagnoses are bipolar disorder (27%), depression (23%), and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (16%). Seventy percent currently include participants with felony offenses, and 91% with misdemeanors; 67% exclude status offenses, and 21% exclude violent offenses. A guilty plea was required by 63%. Incentives to participate included dismissal of charges (40%), reduction in court hearings (43%), praise by the judge and probation officer (60%), reduction in curfew restrictions (23%), and gift cards or gifts (71%). Sanctions for not participating included increased supervision or hearings (60%), performing community service (54%), and placement in residential detention (60%). Most JMHCs reported use of a multidisciplinary team to coordinate community-based services to prevent protracted justice system involvement.


Conclusions: JMHCs are being developed in the absence of systematically collected outcome data. Although they resemble adult mental health courts, they have unique features that are specific to addressing the complex needs of youths with mental disorders involved in the justice system. These include diagnostic and treatment challenges and issues related to involving families and schools.


Callahan, L., Cocozza, J., Steadman, H. J., & Tillman, S. (2012). A National Survey of U.S. Juvenile Mental Health Courts. Psychiatric Services63(2), 130–134.

Keywords: court administration, criminal justice, specialized courts


Feasibility, Acceptability, and Initial Findings from a Community-Based Cultural Mental Health Intervention for American Indian Youth and Their Families

Authors: Jessica Goodkind, Marianna LaNoue, Christopher Lee, Lance Freeland, Rachel Freund
Journal: Journal of Community Psychology

Through a CBPR partnership, university and American Indian (AI) tribal members developed and tested Our Life intervention to promote mental health of AI youth and their families by addressing root causes of violence, trauma, and substance abuse. Based on premises that well-being is built on a foundation of traditional cultural beliefs and practices, and that it requires a process of healing and understanding, the 6-month intervention had four components: 1) recognizing/healing historical trauma; 2) reconnecting to traditional culture; 3) parenting/social skill-building; and 4) strengthening family relationships through equine-assisted activities. Feasibility, acceptability, appropriateness, and preliminary outcomes were examined in a mixed-method within-group design. Engagement and retention were challenging, suggesting that families faced numerous barriers to participation. Youth who completed the program experienced significant increases in cultural identity, self-esteem, positive coping strategies, quality of life, and social adjustment. Qualitative data supported these findings and suggested additional positive effects.


Goodkind, J., LaNoue, M., Freeland, C. L. and L., & Freund, R. (2012). Feasibility, Acceptability, and Initial Findings from a Community-Based Cultural Mental Health Intervention for American Indian Youth and Their Families. Journal of Community Psychology40(4), 381–405.

Keywords: court administration, criminal justice, specialized courts


Perceptions about Recovery Needs and Drug-Avoidance Recovery Behaviors among Youth in Substance Abuse Treatment

Authors: Rachel Gonzales, MPH, M. Douglas Anglin, Ph.D, Deborah C. Glik, Sc.D, Christina Zavalza
Journal: Journal of Psychoactive Drugs

Objective: This study used mixed methods to explore youth attitudes about recovery-related needs and important drug-avoidance behaviors after treatment.


Method: Focus groups were conducted with 118 substance using youth in treatment (four residential and 10 outpatient settings) throughout Los Angeles County.


Results: The average age was 17.4 (SD = 2.9); 78.3% were male, 66.1% Latino; and most were in treatment for primary marijuana (40.9%) or methamphetamine (30.4%) abuse. Quantitatve results from the drug-avoidance activity survey identified the following factors youth rated as important to their recovery after treatment: lifestyle improvement activities (95.7%); changing personal drug behaviors (89.6%); drug environment/culture change activities (82.5%); with the least important being therapeutic activities (78.5%). Qualitative findings from focus groups that asked what youth think are important for recovery programs to address after treatment revealed the following four areas: (1) recovery promotion to developmentally appropriate activities (95%); (2) facilitating the use of coping skills to deal with stress (85%); (3) offering alternative recovery support options (not just abstinence only) (75%); and (4) continuing to provide substance use education (65%).


Conclusion: Findings highlight essential aspects of recovery in terms of need and drug-avoidance behaviors considered important to youth in treatment. Such information will help to better address clinical and recovery support models aimed at relapse prevention to ensure that the perceived problems of substance-abusing youth are adequately met.


Gonzalez, Rachel, Anglin, M. Douglas, Glik, Deborah C., Zavalza, Christina. (2013). Perceptions about Recovery Needs and Drug-Avoidance Recovery Behaviors among Youth in Substance Abuse Treatment. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs45(4), 297–303.

Keywords: drug-avoidance activities, recovery needs, youth substance abuse


Predicting Nonresponse to Juvenile Drug Court Interventions

Authors: Colleen A. Halliday-Boykins, Cindy M. Schaeffer
Journal: Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment

Using data from a recent randomized clinical trial involving juvenile drug court (JDC), youth marijuana use trajectories and the predictors of treatment nonresponse were examined. Participants were 118 juvenile offenders meeting diagnostic criteria for substance use disorders assigned to JDC and their families. Urine drug screen results were gathered from weekly court visits for 6 months, and youth reported their marijuana use over 12 months. Semiparametric mixture modeling jointly estimated and classified trajectories of both marijuana use indices. Youth were classified into responder versus nonresponder trajectory groups based on both outcomes. Regression analyses examined pretreatment individual, family, and extrafamilial predictors of nonresponse. Results indicated that youth whose caregivers reported illegal drug use pretreatment were almost 10 times as likely to be classified into the nonresponder trajectory group. No other variable significantly distinguished drug use trajectory groups. Findings have implications for the design of interventions to improve JDC outcomes.


Halliday-Boykins, C. A., Schaeffer, C. M., Henggeler, S. W., Chapman, J. E., Cunningham, P. B., Randall, J., & Shapiro, S. B. (2010). Predicting nonresponse to juvenile drug court interventions. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment39(4), 318–328.

Keywords: adolescent substance abuse, juvenile drug court, trajectory outcomes, treatment nonresponse


Predicting Success and Failure in Juvenile Drug Treatment Court: A Meta-Analytic Review

Authors: David M. Stein, Scott Deberard, Kendra Homan
Journal: Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment

This meta-analysis summarizes 41 studies that examined associations between characteristics of adolescent participants in juvenile drug treatment court and outcomes (i.e., premature termination, recidivism). A summary of within- and post-program recidivism rates was calculated, as was a global estimate of the premature drop-out rate. One clear trend in the available studies was the dramatic difference in recidivism rates for adolescents who succeed in graduating from drug court, relative to those who do not. In addition, the review revealed that behavior patterns evidenced during drug court participation were most strongly associated with both the probability of graduating successfully from drug court and recidivism (e.g., few in-program arrests, citations, detentions, and referrals; greater length of time in program or amount of treatment; lower use of drug and alcohol use, few positive urine screens, greater school attendance). Unfortunately, non-white participants tend to have a lower probability of graduation from drug court and experience higher recidivism during and following the program. Available juvenile drug treatment court studies confirm a number of reputed adolescent risk factors associated with substance abuse, criminality, treatment failure, and recidivism among adolescents (e.g., higher levels of emotional and behavioral problems, higher levels and severity of pre-program substance abuse, male gender). Suggestions for improving the effects of juvenile drug treatment court based on key results of the meta-analysis are offered.


Stein, D. M., Deberard, S., & Homan, K. (2013). Predicting success and failure in juvenile drug treatment court: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment44(2), 159–168.

Keywords: adolescent, delinquency, drug court, meta-analysis, review, substance abuse, treatment


Adaptive Interventions in Drug Court: A Pilot Experiment

Authors: Douglas B. Marlowe, David S. Festinger, Patricia L. Arabia, Karen L. Dugosh, Kathleen M. Benasutti, Jason R. Croft, James R. McKay
Journal: Criminal Justice Review

This pilot study (N = 30) experimentally examined the effects of an adaptive intervention in an adult misdemeanor drug court. The adaptive algorithm adjusted the frequency of judicial status hearings and clinical case-management sessions according to pre-specified criteria in response to participants’ ongoing performance in the program. Results revealed the adaptive algorithm was acceptable to both clients and staff, feasible to implement with greater than 85% fidelity, and showed promise for eliciting clinically meaningful improvements in drug abstinence and graduation rates. Estimated effect sizes ranged from 0.40 to 0.60 across various dependent measures. Compared to drug court as-usual, participants in the adaptive condition were more likely to receive responses from the drug court team for inadequate performance in the program and received those responses after a substantially shorter period of time. This suggests the adaptive algorithm may have more readily focused the drug court team’s attention on poorly-performing individuals, thus allowing the team to “nip problems in the bud” before they developed too fully. These preliminary data justify additional research evaluating the effects of the adaptive algorithm in a fully powered experimental trial.


Marlowe, D. B., Festinger, D. S., Arabia, P. L., Dugosh, K. L., Benasutti, K. M., Croft, J. R., & McKay, J. R. (2008). Adaptive Interventions in Drug Court: A Pilot Experiment. Criminal Justice Review.

Keywords: adaptive treatment, adult treatment courts, antisocial personality disorder, criminal justice, drug courts


Disparities in Criminal Court Referrals to Drug Treatment and Prison for Minority Men

Authors: Nancy Nicosia, PhD, John M. MacDonald, PhD, and Jeremy Arkes, PhD
Journal: American Journal of Public Health

Objectives: We investigated the extent to which racial/ethnic disparities in prison and diversion to drug treatment were explained by current arrest and criminal history characteristics among drug-involved offenders, and whether those disparities decreased after California’s Proposition 36, which mandated first- and second-time nonviolent drug offenders drug treatment instead of prison.


Methods: We analyzed administrative data on approximately 170 000 drug-involved arrests in California between 1995 and 2005. We examined odds ratios from logistic regressions for prison and diversion across racial/ethnic groups before and after Proposition 36.


Results: We found significant disparities in prison and diversion for Blacks and Hispanics relative to Whites. These disparities decreased after controlling for current arrest and criminal history characteristics for Blacks. Proposition 36 was also associated with a reduction in disparities, but more so for Hispanics than Blacks.


Conclusions: Disparities in prison and diversion to drug treatment among drug-involved offenders affect hundreds of thousands of citizens and might reinforce imbalances in criminal justice and health outcomes. Our study indicated that standardized criminal justice policies that improved access to drug treatment might contribute to alleviating some share of these disparities. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)


Nicosia, N., MacDonald, J. M., & Arkes, J. (2013). Disparities in criminal court referrals to drug treatment and prison for minority men. American Journal of Public Health103(6), e77–e84.



Drug Courts and Recidivism: The Results of an Evaluation Using Two Comparison Groups and Multiple Indicators of Recidivism:

Authors: Cassia Spohn, Ph.D., R.K. Piper, Ph.D., Tom Martin, Ph.D., Erika Davis Frenzel, Ph.D.
Journal: Journal of Drug Issues

Increases in the number of drug offenders appearing in state and federal courts, coupled with mounting evidence of both the linkages between drug use and crime and the efficacy of drug treatment programs, led many jurisdictions to implement drug treatment courts. Although these courts vary on a number of dimensions, most are designed to reduce drug use and criminal behavior among drug-involved offenders. This study evaluates the effectiveness of one drug court–the Douglas County (Omaha), Nebraska Drug Court–in reducing offender recidivism. We use a variety of analytical techniques to compare drug court participants and offenders in two matched comparison groups on a number of measures of recidivism. Our results reveal that drug court participants have substantially lower rates of recidivism than traditionally adjudicated felony drug offenders, and that the differences in recidivism rates between drug court participants and drug offenders who participated in a diversion program prior to the implementation of the drug court disappeared once we controlled for the offender’s assessed level of risk, as indicated by his/her LSI score.


Spohn, C., Piper, R. K., Martin, T., & Frenzel, E. D. (2016). Drug Courts and Recidivism: The Results of an Evaluation Using Two Comparison Groups and Multiple Indicators of Recidivism: Journal of Drug Issues



Employment and Work Among Drug Court Clients: 12-Month Outcomes

Authors: Carl Leukefeld, J. Matthew Webster, Michele Staton-Tindall, Jamieson Duvall
Journal: Substance Use & Misuse

Employment contributes to drug abuse treatment success and is an important treatment outcome (Institute of Medicine, 1990). However, few tailored employment interventions are available. This project developed an employment intervention focused on obtaining, maintaining, and upgrading employment. The current study, approved by an IRB, uses 12-month outcomes to examine intervention dosage effects. Participants were 500 clients who entered two Kentucky drug court programs between March 2000 and November 2002. Measures included demographics, drug/alcohol use, criminality, employment, and education measures from the Addiction Severity Index (McLellan, Luborsky, Woody, and O’Brien, 1980) as well as specific employment measures. To examine the intervention, the number of intervention upgrading sessions attended was divided by the number of possible upgrading sessions. Session attendance percentages were then used to median split into a low upgrading group and a high upgrading group and were compared with the no intervention group. These three groups were used in a series of ANOVA and chi-square analyses to examine differences at 12-month follow-up. When employment, legal work, illegal work, and employment problems were examined for one year and 30 days at follow-up, there were significant effects for jobs in the past year, days worked at a legitimate job in both the past year as well as 30 days, and income from a legitimate job in the past year. Participants in the high upgrade group received maximum employment benefits. Since legal earnings increased and illegal earnings decreased, drug-user treatment programs and practitioners should assess and refer clients to employment interventions. Tailored employment interventions should be tested to keep drug users in treatment and to increase treatment outcome. The study’s limitations are noted and future needed research is suggested. The study was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.


Stein, D. M., Deberard, S., & Homan, K. (2013). Predicting success and failure in juvenile drug treatment court: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment44(2), 159–168.

Keywords: drug courts, drug user treatment, employment, evidence-based, follow-up, intervention, outcomes, protective factors, work


Everyday Hassles: Barriers to Recovery in Drug Court

Authors: Elaine Wolf, Corey Colyer
Journal: Journal of Drug Issues

Participants in a drug court are subjects in a study that analyzes the relationship between the everyday problems they identify in discussions with the judge and their patterns of recovery, as measured by compliance with program requirements. 130 types of problems mentioned in court revealed that problems generally are those associated with the individuals themselves (e.g., their physical health), their immediate social milieu (e.g., domestic abuse), and the larger social structure in which they negotiate their lives (e.g., acquiring Medicaid benefits). The most frequently mentioned types of problems were “structural” in nature. Patterns of recovery identified in program graduates resulted in labels of “clear sailers,” “late bloomers,” “occasional stumblers,” and “chronic stumblers.” A case study of an occasional stumbler reveals some ways in which everyday hassles and her responses to them affected her recovery.


Wolf, E., & Colyer, C. (2016). Everyday Hassles: Barriers to Recovery in Drug Court. Journal of Drug Issues.



Factors Associated with Treatment Compliance and its Effects on Retention Among Participants in a Court-Mandated Treatment Program

Authors: Jayadeep Patra, Louis Gliksman, Benedikt Fischer, Brenda Newton-Taylor, Steven Belenko, Michel Ferrari, Stephanie Kersta, Jürgen Rehm
Journal: Contemporary Drug Problems: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly

Drug treatment court (DTC) programs have been implemented and promoted in American as well as Canadian judicial systems as an effective tool for reducing criminal recidivism rates. An evaluation of the program in Toronto revealed that the drug court participants’ substance abuse and criminal behaviors are reduced while they are under the drug courts’ jurisdiction, and to some extent recidivism is reduced after participants leave the program. However, while we know from the literature that there are positive effects of the program, the characteristics of drug-dependent offenders who benefit the most from the DTC are less clear. The main purpose of this study was to understand where the prediction from literature, that compliance determines success in treatment, fails. Thus, study participants were divided into two groups: 1) those who might normally be expected to not comply yet who do in the long run (unexpected retention, UR); and 2) those who might normally be expected to comply, but who do not (unexpected expulsions, UE). Discriminant function analysis showed that participants considered UR were subject to conditions of social disadvantage yet quite motivated; whereas UE participants had no housing concern, no indication of family problems, but had additional criminal justice involvement at an early stage of the program. Implications for strengthening DTCs as well as suggestions for future research in the drug treatment and drug court fields are discussed.


Patra, J., Gliksman, L., Fischer, B., Newton-Taylor, B., Belenko, S., Ferrari, M., Kersta, S., & Rehm, J. (2010). Factors associated with treatment compliance and its effects on retention among participants in a court-mandated treatment program. Contemporary Drug Problems: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly37(2), 289–313.

Keywords: client characteristics, court referrals, criminal behavior, drug abuse, drug treatment court programs, drug-dependent offender characteristics, program evaluation, program retention, recidivism reduction, retention, substance abuse treatment, treatment compliance


Identifying Predictors of Treatment Outcome in a Drug Court Program

Authors: John M. Roll, Michael Prendergast, Kimberly Richardson, William Burdon, Anthony Ramirez
Journal: American Journal of Drug & Alcohol Abuse

Drug courts are popular for dealing with drug-abusing offenders. However, relatively little is known about participant characteristics that reliably predict either success or failure in these treatment settings. In this article, we report on 99 individuals who were enrolled in a drug court program (approximately one-half of whom successfully completed the program). Using, logistic regression techniques we identified 2 significant predictors of outcome. First, individuals who were employed at the time of their enrollment into the drug court program were more likely to successfully complete the treatment program. Second, individuals with a history of illicit intravenous drug use were less likely to complete the program.


Roll, J. M., Prendergast, M., Richardson, K., Burdon, W., & Ramirez, A. (2005). Identifying predictors of treatment outcome in a drug court program. American Journal of Drug & Alcohol Abuse31(4), 641–656.

Keywords: drug abuse treatment, drug court program, predictor of treatment outcomes


Meeting Health and Psychological Needs of Women in Drug Treatment Court

Authors: Diane S. Morse, MD, Catherine Cerulli, JD, PhD, Precious Bedell, MA, John L. Wilson, Katherine Thomas, Mona Mittal, PhD, J. Steven Lamberti, MD, Geoffrey Williams, MD, PhD, Jennifer Silverstein, Aninda Mukherjee, Donna Walck, MS, Nancy Chin, PhD
Journal: Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment

We explored healthcare-related experiences of women drug court participants through combining context from the socio-ecological model with motivation needs for health behavior as indicated by self-determination theory. Five focus groups with 8 women drug court participants, 8 court staff, and 9 community service providers were examined using qualitative framework analysis. Themes emerged across the socio-ecological model and were cross-mapped with self-determination theory-defined motivation needs for autonomy, relatedness, and competence. Socio-ecological levels contained experiences either supporting or eroding women’s motivation needs: 1) intrapersonal challenges participants termed an “evil cycle” of relapse, recidivism, trauma, and life challenges; 2) interpersonal context of parenting and stigma involving features of this “evil cycle”; 3) institutions with logistical barriers to legal and medical assistance; 4) community resources inadequate to support living and employment needs. Self-determination theory helps explain motivation required to address the women’s healthcare needs and multiple demands at all levels of the socio-ecological model.


Morse, D. S., Cerulli, C., Bedell, P., Wilson, J. L., Thomas, K., Mittal, M., Lamberti, J. S., Williams, G., Silverstein, J., Mukherjee, A., Walck, D., & Chin, N. (2014). Meeting health and psychological needs of women in drug treatment court. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment46(2), 150–157.

Keywords: drug treatment court, self-determination theory, socio-ecological model, trauma, women


Long Term Effects of Drug Court Participation: Evidence from a 15-year Follow-Up of a Randomized Controlled Trial

Authors: Brook Kearley, Denise Gottfredson
Journal: Journal of Experimental Criminology

Substance use disorders and related negative outcomes are on the rise in America. Among jail and prison populations, approximately half of all inmates meet DSM-IV criteria for substance dependence or abuse. Two decades of drug court research indicate that these specialized courts reduce recidivism among participants when compared to traditional probation processing. However, few high quality studies have been conducted and important gaps in our understanding of the model’s effectiveness and population suitability remain. Additionally, little is known regarding the long-term impacts of drug courts or the courts’ effects on outcomes beyond recidivism and drug use. One of the most rigorous primary studies to date is the randomized trial of the Baltimore City Drug Treatment Court (BCDTC). Three-year follow-up data from this study showed that participation in the program reduced recidivism and that subjects self-reported less crime and substance use than did controls. This dissertation compares 15-year recidivism, incarceration, and mortality outcomes for the 235 BCDTC subjects. Additionally, it compares differences in recidivism growth over time between the two conditions. The work extends one of the few randomized trials of an established drug court and includes a group of offenders with substantial criminal and substance abuse histories. Findings suggest that participation in Baltimore City’s Drug Treatment Court resulted in significantly fewer arrests, charges, and convictions across the 15-year follow-up period, to include several crime-specific differences in arrests and convictions. Originating court was shown to moderate the effect of drug court participation for convictions, such that those participating in the Circuit drug court had significantly better outcomes than those participating in the District drug court. Drug court participants also had significantly lower rates of growth over time in both arrests and convictions. While differences were sustained across the 15-year period, differences in the rate of growth did not appear to increase over time as hypothesized. Participation in Baltimore City’s Drug Treatment Court did not have a significant effect on total days of sentenced incarceration, nor did it have an impact on mortality risk.


Kearley, B., & Gottfredson, D. (2020). Long term effects of drug court participation: Evidence from a 15-year follow-up of a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Experimental Criminology16(1), 27–47.



Can Drug Courts Help to Reduce Prison and Jail Populations?

Authors: Eric L. Sevigny, Harold A. Pollack, Peter R PETER REUTER
Journal: The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science

Drug courts have been widely praised as an important tool for reducing prison and jail populations by diverting drug-involved offenders into treatment rather than incarceration. Yet only a small share of offenders presenting with drug abuse or dependence are processed in drug courts. This study uses inmate self-report surveys from 2002 and 2004 to examine characteristics of the prison and jail populations in the United States and assess why so many drug-involved offenders are incarcerated. Our analysis shows that four factors have prevented drug courts from substantially lowering the flow into prisons and jails. In descending order of importance, these are: drug courts’ tight eligibility requirements, specific sentencing requirements, legal consequences of program noncompliance, and constraints in drug court capacity and funding. Drug courts will only be able to help lower prison and jail populations if substantial changes are made in eligibility and sentencing rules.


Sevigny, E. L., Pollack, H. A., & Reuter, P. (2013). Can Drug Courts Help to Reduce Prison and Jail Populations? The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science647(1), 190–212.

Keywords: alternatives to incarceration, drug courts, eligibility criteria, prison and jail populations


Examining the Use of Visual Performance Feedback in Drug Treatment Court

Authors: David S. Festinger, Karen L. Dugosh, John M. Della Porta
Journal: Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology

A key component of drug courts is regular status hearings in which the judge reviews client progress and imposes sanctions or rewards for infractions or achievements; however, little is known about whether drug court clients fully understand the reasons for judicial responses and make clear connections between their behavior and judicially-imposed consequences. Thus, it is reasonable to hypothesize that graphic performance feedback can improve clients’ perceptions of procedural justice and increase the likelihood of success.


Festinger, D. S., Dugosh, K. L., & Della Porta, J. M. (2018). Examining the Use of Visual Performance Feedback in Drug Treatment Court. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology26(1), 85–93.

Keywords: drug court, judge-client relationship, procedural justice, status hearings, visual performance feedback


Participation in Drug Treatment Court and Time to Rearrest

Authors: Duren Banks, Denise C. Gottfredson
Journal: Justice Quarterly

This study uses an experimental design to assess the impact of a drug treatment court on nonviolent felony offenders. The drug court program combines intensive supervision, judicial monitoring, drug testing, and drug treatment to reduce recidivism and other problem behaviors. Survival analyses showed that the drug court sample had a significantly longer time to first rearrest than the control sample. Assignment to the drug court also significantly reduced the risk of drug crime failure during the follow-up period. The drug court and control samples had identical failure rates during the first 4 months of the follow-up, after which the drug court appeared to have its greatest impact on the risk of failure. Further analyses suggested that compliance with various drug court components, particularly early and continued drug treatment attendance, reduced the risk of failure among this sample.


Banks, D., & Gottfredson, D. C. (2004). Participation in Drug Treatment Court and Time to Rearrest*. Justice Quarterly : JQ; Abingdon21(3), 637–658.



Racial and Gender Disparities in Treatment Courts: Do They Exist and Is There Anything We Can Do to Change Them?

Authors: Timothy Ho, Shannon M. Carey, Anna M. Malsch
Journal: Journal for Advancing Justice

The data from the 142 treatment courts were merged and analyzed to examine whether there were disparities in who is accepted by treatment courts and in court graduation rates across demographic characteristics. Data analysis also focused on the features of treatment court practices that are associated with reduced disparities in graduation rates among demographic groups. The study found that males were underrepresented by about 9 percent in admissions to treatment courts compared with the general probation population; and females were over-represented compared with the general probation population. Regarding racial disparities, Whites were slightly over-represented in treatment courts compared with their respective probation population, and the proportion of Black individuals in treatment courts, except for reentry courts, was representative of their respective probation population. In reentry courts, the percentage of Black participants was significantly higher than the percentage of probationers who were White. There were no significant differences in the court graduation rates of male and female participants; however, the comparison of graduation rates across race indicated that Hispanic/Latino participants tended to have graduation rates similar to White participants. Black participants had lower graduation rates than White participants, even after controlling for education, employment, prior arrests, drugs used, and age. The provision of family/domestic counseling was significantly related to lower racial disparity. Family counselors can obtain insight into the environment and circumstances of each participant, which may produce better tailoring of treatment to participant needs.


Ho, T., Carey, S. M., & Malsch, A. M. (2018). Racial and Gender Disparities in Treatment Courts: Do They Exist and Is There Anything We Can Do to Change Them? Journal for Advancing Justice1, 5–34.

Keywords: best practice, drug courts, ethnicity, gender disparity, racial disparity, treatment court


Status Hearings in Drug Court: When More is Less and Less is More

Authors: David S. Festinger, Douglas B. Marlowe, Patricia A. Lee, Kimberly C. Kirby, Gregory Bovasso, A.Thomas McLellan
Journal: Drug and Alcohol Dependence

We examined the effects of increasing the number of times misdemeanor drug court clients appeared before a judge for judicial status hearings. Our previous findings showed no main effect of increased hearings during the first 14 weeks of the program. The present study examined participants’ discharge status in the program, and also explored potential interactions between client characteristics and the frequency of judicial status hearings on outcomes. Results revealed no main effects for hearing frequency on graduation status. Drug offenders who satisfied DSM-IV criteria for antisocial personality disorder (APD) achieved more weeks of urinalysis-confirmed drug abstinence when assigned to more frequent judicial status hearings, whereas subjects without APD achieved more abstinence and were more likely to graduate successfully from the program when assigned to less frequent hearings. Additionally, clients with a history of substance abuse treatment achieved more weeks of abstinence when assigned to more frequent hearings. These findings lend useful guidance to drug courts. Status hearings are expensive and time consuming and should be targeted to clients who would benefit most from them.


Festinger, D. S., Marlowe, D. B., Lee, P. A., Kirby, K. C., Bovasso, G., & McLellan, A. T. (2002). Status hearings in drug court: When more is less and less is more. Drug and Alcohol Dependence68(2), 151–157.

Keywords: antisocial personality, criminal justice, drug court, treatment


Systematic Review of the Impact of Adult Drug-Treatment Courts

Author: Randall T. Brown
Journal: Translational Research

The U.S. correctional system is overburdened with individuals suffering from substance use disorders. These illnesses also exact a heavy toll on individual and public health and well-being. Effective methods for reducing the negative impact of substance use disorders comprise critical concerns for policy makers. Drug treatment court (DTC) programs are present in more than 1800 county, tribal, and territorial jurisdictions in the United States as an alternative to incarceration for offenders with substance use disorders. This review article summarizes the available descriptive information on representative DTC populations and the observational studies of drug court participants, and it specifically reviews the available experimental effectiveness literature on DTCs. The review concludes by examining the limitations of the current literature, challenges to conducting research in drug court samples, and potential future directions for research on DTC interventions. A review of nonexperimental and quasi-experimental literature regarding the impact of DTCs points toward benefit versus traditional adjudication in averting future criminal behavior and in reducing future substance use, at least in the short term. Randomized effectiveness studies of DTCs are scant (3 were identified in the literature on U.S. adult drug courts), and methodological issues develop in combining their findings. These randomized trials failed to demonstrate a consistent effect on rearrest rates for drug-involved offenders participating in DTC versus typical adjudication. The 2 studies examining reconviction and reincarceration, however, demonstrated reductions for the DTC group versus those typically adjudicated.


Brown, R. T. (2010). Systematic review of the impact of adult drug-treatment courts. Translational Research155(6), 263–274.



The Impact of Drug Treatment Courts on Recovery: A Systematic Review

Authors: Ciska Wittouck,, Anne Dekkers, Brice De Ruyver, Wouter Vanderplasschen, Freya Vander Laenen
Journal: The Scientific World Journal

Introduction: Earlier reviews regarding the effectiveness of Drug Treatment Courts (DTCs) reported a reduction in reoffending and substance use. Although substance users suffer from other difficulties than drug use and judicial issues, none of these reviews focused on outcomes or effects of DTCs on drug-related life domains, such as social relationships, employment, or health. Therefore, the present paper aims to review the impact of adult DTCs on substance use and drug-related life domains.


Method: Primary studies were systematically searched in Web of Knowledge. Observational and controlled evaluation studies of adult DTCs were considered eligible if substance use and/or drug-related life domains were measured.


Results: Moderately positive results were found with respect to within-program substance use. Few studies used drug-related life domains as an outcome measure and most of them yielded no effects. Employment and family relations ameliorated when specific interventions were used.


Discussion: DTCs yield beneficial outcomes and effects regarding within-program substance use. However, evidence regarding the impact of DTCs on post-program drug and alcohol use and on other drug-related life domains is scarce. These life domains and thus QoL possibly can be improved by DTCs if specifically targeted. Future research is warranted.


Wittouck, C., Dekkers, A., De Ruyver, B., Vanderplasschen, W., & Vander Laenen, F. (2013). The Impact of Drug Treatment Courts on Recovery: A Systematic Review. The Scientific World Journal2013, e493679.



The Long Term Effectiveness of Drug Treatment Court on Reducing Recidivism and Predictors of Voluntary Withdrawal

Authors: Jeremy Dean Jewell, Paul Rose, Rachel Bush, Kayla Bartz
Journal: International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction

While drug treatment courts (DTCs) in the United States have proliferated, there is a shortage of research on their long term effectiveness. The purpose of this study was to examine the long-term effectiveness of a DTC and predictors of withdrawal. Retrospective data were analyzed from adults offered admission into a Midwestern DTC. Those who graduated from the program (N = 95), voluntarily withdrew (N = 35), or voluntarily declined (N = 16) entry were compared. Various measures of recidivism were gathered up to on average 3.5 years after graduation, withdrawal, or decline. Outcomes for graduates were superior to the other two groups on almost all measures of recidivism even after controlling for demographic and background variables. Younger age of first arrest and lesser maximum class of prior offense were found to predict a higher likelihood of withdrawal. Findings confirm previous research regarding the effectiveness of DTCs though further study regarding the predictors of withdrawal is warranted.


Jewell, J. D., Rose, P., Bush, R., & Bartz, K. (2017). The long term effectiveness of drug treatment court on reducing recidivism and predictors of voluntary withdrawal. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction15(1), 28–39.

Keywords: drug abuse, drug court, drug treatment court, long term care, recidivism, substance abuse, substance abuse treatment, treatment


The Strength of the Participant-Judge Relationship Predicts Better Drug Court Outcomes

Authors: Craig G. A. Jones, Richard Kemp
Journal: Psychiatry, Psychology and Law

This article explores mechanisms underpinning the impact of the drug court judge on participant outcomes. There were 93 participants taking part in a randomized controlled trial of intensive judicial supervision (IJS) at the Parramatta Drug Court, Sydney, Australia. IJS participants appeared before the judge twice weekly and the supervision as usual (SAU) participants appeared once weekly. A questionnaire assessed the extent to which participants formed a strong relationship with the judge, their understanding of programme requirements and perceived deterrence. IJS participants were more likely than SAU participants to indicate that they have a good relationship with the judge (73.9% vs. 44.7%, p =.004). Participants who formed a closer bond had lower odds of substance use (odds ratio = 0.46, p =.004). The drug court judge appears to be crucial to the drug court rehabilitation process. The formation of strong interpersonal bonds that appears to underpin this effect is consistent with the therapeutic jurisprudential principles upon which drug courts are based.


Jones, C. G. A., & Kemp, R. I. (2014). The Strength of the Participant-Judge Relationship Predicts Better Drug Court Outcomes. Psychiatry, Psychology & Law21(2), 165–175.

Keywords: celerity, deterrence, drug courts, education, judicial alliance, judicial supervision, therapeutic jurisprudence


Treatment Inside the Drug Treatment Court: The Who, What, Where, and How of Treatment Services

Authors: Faye S. Taxman, Jeffrey Bouffard
Journal: Substance Use & Misuse

Drug treatment courts provide a new strategy for providing treatment services to offenders within the criminal justice system. With over 400 drug treatment courts in the United States, the courts have evolved to provide treatment services under different models. This article will review the different typologies for delivery of treatment services to drug user offenders in the drug treatment court setting, and it will raise questions about some of the difficult issues underscoring an integrated service delivery model. The paper then identifies some research questions for the future.


Taxman, F. S., & Bouffard, J. (2002). Treatment Inside the Drug Treatment Court: The Who, What, Where, and How of Treatment Services. Substance Use & Misuse37(12–13), 1665–1688.

Keywords: brokerage model, case management, compliance, delivery of services, in-house model, recovery, treatment quality


Treatment Retention Predictors of Drug Court Participants in a Rural State

Authors: Allison Mateyoke-Scrivner, J. Matthew Webster, Michele Staton, Carl Leukefeld
Journal: American Journal of Drug & Alcohol Abuse

Factors distinguishing clients who complete drug court treatment from those who do not complete drug court have been documented, but differences between urban and rural drug court participants have not been examined. The present study focuses on examining mental health, drug use, criminal activity, and education/employment as factors that are associated with treatment retention, which is measured by graduation from a rural and urban drug court. Study findings indicate that for the urban drug court, marital status, employment, drug use, and criminal activity predicted graduation. For the rural drug court, however, graduation was only predicted by age and juvenile incarceration. Findings from this study suggest there are different factors associated with drug court retention/graduation between urban and rural drug court settings. It is suggested that drug court administrators and other could use this information to better assess potential participants and to target services.


Mateyoke‐Scrivner, A., Webster, J. M., Staton, M., Leukefeld, C., & Mateyoke-Scrivner, A. (2004). Treatment retention predictors of drug court participants in a rural state. American Journal of Drug & Alcohol Abuse30(3), 605–625.

Keywords: drug court, graduation, rural, treatment retention, urban


“I’ll Just Do My Time”: The Role of Motivation in the Rejection of the DWI Court Model

Authors: Deborah A. Eckberg, David Squier Jones
Journal: Qualitative Report

In the last decade, driving while intoxicated (DWI) courts based on the therapeutic court model have proliferated. Although the typical DWI court program allows offenders with multiple DWI offenses to avoid jail time and get their drivers’ licenses back sooner, not all offenders who are offered the opportunity to participate in DWI court choose to take advantage of it. Others try but drop out of the program early on. We conducted qualitative interviews with twelve people who were offered the opportunity to participate in an urban DWI court in a Midwestern county between 2007 and 2010, but who either chose not to participate or who tried but did not succeed in the program. The authors point to the relationship between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in order to explain the findings and ultimately inform practitioner methods for engaging potential DWI court clients and enhancing success rates.


Eckberg, D. A., & Jones, D. S. (2015). “I’ll Just Do My Time”: The Role of Motivation in the Rejection of the DWI Court Model. 19.

Keywords: driving while intoxicated (DWI)/driving under the influence (DUI), court, motivation, interviews


A Multiple Risk Factor Approach for Predicting DWI Recidivism

Authors: Janet C’de Baca, Ph.D., William R. Miller, Ph.D., Sandra Lapham, M.D., M.P.H.
Journal: Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment

A sample of DWI (driving while impaired) offenders was studied to compare various approaches for predicting reoffenses over a 4-year period. Logistic regression yielded multivariate predictor equations that were significant statistically, but were not helpful to clinicians in assessing risk for reoffending. As a different approach, five predictor variables that were consistently correlated with reoffense status were examined to determine the cut score at which the repeat offense rate exceeded the base rate. These were combined to yield the number of risk factors (from 0 to 5) for each offender. This method, used for the original and a hold-out sample, yields results as accurate as those derived from a logistic regression model that includes all the risk variables, and allows clinicians to classify offenders into low and high risk categories in a straightforward manner. Nearly half of offenders with four or five risk factors (age, years of education, arrest blood alcohol concentration (BAC), score on the receptive area scale of AUI and raw score on the MacAndrews scale of MMPI-2) were rearrested compared to the base rate (25%). However, this method is not sufficiently precise to accurately predict which individuals will and will not be rearrested. Although generalizability of specific algorithms across populations needs to be examined, this method appears promising as a clinically accessible way to classify, in a given offender population, those who are most likely to repeat the offense.


C’de Baca, J., Miller, W. R., & Lapham, S. (2001). A multiple risk factor approach for predicting DWI recidivism. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment21(4), 207–215.

Keywords: alcohol, DUI, DWI, recidivism


Are Biomarkers of Chronic Alcohol Misuse Useful in the Assessment of DWI Recidivism Status?

Authors: Sophie Couture, Thomas Brown Douglas, Jacques Tremblay, N. M. K. Ng Ying Kin, Marie Claude Ouimet, Louise Nadeau
Journal: Accident Analysis and Prevention

Methods: First-time offenders (n = 49) and recidivists (n = 95) participated in the study. In addition to self-reported information on sociodemographic and driving characteristics, data from several AUD questionnaires were gathered: Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test, Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test, Composite International Diagnostic Interview, and Timeline Follow-Back. Blood samples were collected to measure AST, ALT, GGT, MCV, CDT, and thiamine.


Results: AUD biomarkers, taken individually or in combination, did not indicate that recidivists had more frequent AUD compared to first-time offenders. Also, they failed to significantly differentiate firsttime offenders from recidivists or predict recidivism status. Finally, the superiority of biomarkers over psychosocial AUD questionnaires was not supported in the laboratory setting.


Conclusion: The present findings suggest that biomarkers of chronic patterns of heavy drinking may not be adequate to capture the multiple processes that appear to promote recidivism (e.g., binge drinking, other risky behavioural and personality features). Despite their objectivity, caution is warranted in the interpretation of a positive score on these biomarkers in DWI assessment. Longitudinal research is needed to more comprehensively explore the relationship between positive biomarkers in first-time offenders and their risk of becoming recidivists.


Couture, Sophie & Brown, Thomas & Tremblay, Jacques & Kin, N. & Ouimet, Marie & Nadeau, Louise. (2010). Are biomarkers of chronic alcohol misuse useful in the assessment of DWI recidivism status? Accident; analysis and prevention. 42. 307-12.

Keywords: alcohol, assessment, biomarkers, driving while impaired, DUI, recidivism


Attitudes Toward Mandatory Ignition Interlocks for all Offenders Convicted of Driving While Intoxicated

Authors: Jonathan Downs, Ruth A. Shults, Bethany A. West
Journal: Journal of Safety Research

Introduction: Ignition interlocks are effective in reducing alcohol-impaired driving recidivism for all offenders, including first-time offenders. Despite their effectiveness, interlock use among persons convicted of driving while intoxicated from alcohol (DWI) remains low. This cross-sectional survey of U.S. adults assessed public support for requiring ignition interlocks for all convicted DWI offenders including first-time offenders. The goal was to update results from a similar 2010 survey in light of new state requirements and increased interlock installations.


Methods: Questions were included in the Porter Novelli FallStyles survey, which was fielded from September 28 to October 16, 2015. Participants were the 3,536 individuals who provided an opinion toward requiring ignition interlocks for all offenders. For analyses, opinion toward requiring interlocks for all offenders was dichotomized into ‘agree’ and ‘neutral/disagree.’ To handle missing data, 10 imputed datasets were created and pooled using fully conditional specification (FCS).


Results: Fifty-nine percent of adults supported requiring interlocks for all DWI offenders. Multivariate analysis revealed that persons who did not report alcohol impaired driving (AID) were 60% more likely to support requiring interlocks than those who reported AID. Having heard of interlocks also increased support. Support was generally consistent across demographic subgroups.


Conclusions: Interlocks for all offenders have majority support nationwide in the current survey, consistent with previous reports. Support is lowest among those who have reported alcohol-impaired driving in the past 30 days. These results suggest that communities with higher levels of alcohol-impaired driving may be more resistant to requiring ignition interlocks for all convicted DWI offenders. Future studies should examine this association further. Practical applications: These results indicate that the majority of adults recognize DWI as a problem and support requiring interlocks for all offenders.


Downs, J., Shults, R., & West, B. (2017). Attitudes toward mandatory ignition interlocks for all offenders convicted of driving while intoxicated. Journal of Safety Research63, 99–103.



Does the Probability of DWI Arrest Fall Following Participation in DWI and Hybrid Drug Treatment Court Programs?

Authors: Frank A. Sloan, Elizabeth J. Gifford, Lindsey M. Eldred, Sabrina A. McCutchan
Journal: Accident Analysis and Prevention

Using North Carolina administrative data, this study examined recidivism following participation in specialty hybrid drug and driving while intoxicated (DWI) court programs. Three court program participation levels were considered—being referred to, enrolling in, and completing a specialty court program. Measures of DWI recidivism were: arrest and total number of arrests for DWI, and being convicted of DWI during follow-up periods of two and, alternatively, four years. Propensity score matching was used to obtain comparable control groups. Using a four-year follow-up, persons convicted of a DWI who completed a specialty court program were associated with a greater reduction in DWI re-arrests and re-convictions than did matched individuals who were never referred to a specialty court program. DWI courts were more effective in reducing re-arrests than hybrid drug courts were. Although promising from the vantage point of participants, few persons convicted of a DWI were referred to either court type, thus limiting this strategy’s potential effectiveness in reducing DWI.


Sloan, F. A., Gifford, E. J., Eldred, L. M., & McCutchan, S. A. (2016). Does the probability of DWI arrest fall following participation in DWI and hybrid drug treatment court programs? Accident Analysis & Prevention97, 197–205.

Keywords: drinking and driving, DWI courts, hybrid drug courts, recidivism


Effectiveness of Ignition Interlock Devices in Reducing Drunk Driving Recidivism

Authors: Jeffrey H. Coben, Gregory L. Larkin
Journal: American Journal of Preventative Medicine

Objective: To determine if ignition interlock devices reduce driving while intoxicated (DWI) recidivism.
Data Collection and Analysis: A total of 31 studies were found. Ten studies met the selection criteria. Three of these studies were eliminated from further analysis because they did not contain original data. A fourth study was eliminated due to methodologic weaknesses, leaving six studies for final review and analysis. Pooled analyses were not done because studies did not follow similar methods over comparable time periods.


Main Results: Five of the six studies found interlocks were effective in reducing DWI recidivism while the interlock was installed in the car. In the five studies demonstrating a significant effect, participants in the interlock programs were 15%–69% less likely than controls to be re-arrested for DWI. The only reported randomized, controlled trial demonstrated a 65% reduction in re-arrests for DWI in the interlock group, compared with the control group.


Conclusions: Alcohol ignition interlock programs appear to be effective in reducing DWI recidivism during the time period when the interlock is installed in the car. Future studies should attempt to control for exposure (i.e., number of miles driven) and determine if certain sub-groups are most benefited by interlock programs.


Coben, J. H., & Larkin, G. L. (1999). Effectiveness of ignition interlock devices in reducing drunk driving recidivism. American Journal of Preventive Medicine16(1), 81–87.

Keywords: accidents (traffic), alcohol drinking, automobile driving, drinking behavior, evaluation studies


Drug Courts for DWI Offenders? The Effectiveness of Two Hybrid Drug Courts on DWI Offenders

Authors: Jeffrey A. Bouffard, Katie A. Richardson, Travis Franklin
Journal: Journal of Criminal Justice

The effectiveness of drug courts for illegal drug-involved offenders has been well documented (Belenko, 1998, 2001; Wilson, Mitchell, & MacKenzie, 2006), however, few studies had examined whether they work for repeat “driving while intoxicated” (DWI) or “driving under the influence” (DUI) offenders. The current study examined sixty-six offenders who had completed one of two hybrid DUI/drug courts (compared to eighty-six similar parolees) operating in two small cities in a single midwestern state. Results suggested that among non-DUI offenders, completion of the drug court program reduced recidivism, as might be expected; however, among the subsample of chronic DUI offenders no significant recidivism reduction was noted. These results add to the small, but growing literature suggesting that DUI courts (as they are currently being implemented) may not be an effective way to reduce the occurrence of repeat DUI offenses. Suggestions for DUI court implementation and future research are presented.

Bouffard, J. A., Richardson, K. A., & Franklin, T. (2010). Drug courts for DWI offenders? The effectiveness of two hybrid drug courts on DWI offenders. Journal of Criminal Justice38(1), 25–33.



General Responsivity Adherence in Juvenile Drug Treatment Court: Examining the Impact on Substance-Use Outcome

Author: Liana R. Taylor
Journal: Journal of Drug Issues

Although the number of juvenile drug treatment courts (JDTC) in operation has increased since the first JDTCs were implemented in the 1990s, research continues to lag regarding the effectiveness of the treatment interventions that are provided. The purpose of the present study was to explore how the risk-need-responsivity models’ general responsivity principle could be used to inform the effectiveness of the interventions provided to 1,176 participants in nine JDTCs in the United States. Responsivity adherence was measured using the number of general responsivity-adherent techniques included in each intervention. The results indicated that an increase in general responsivity adherence was associated with an increase in substance use severity score, which suggests that the effect of the JDTC model on treatment outcomes could vary by the type of interventions provided to participants. In addition, the findings suggest the need to further specify adherence to the general responsivity principle, particularly among substance-involved juvenile offenders.


Taylor, L. R. (2016). General Responsivity Adherence in Juvenile Drug Treatment Court: Examining the Impact on Substance-Use Outcome. Journal of Drug Issues46(1), 24–40.

Keywords: general responsivity principle, juvenile drug treatment court, risk-need-responsivity model, substance use severity


Identifying Leading Characteristics Associated with Juvenile Drug Court Admission and Success

Authors: J.C. Barnes, Holly Ventura, J. Mitchell Miller
Journal: Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice

Since first appearing in the late 1980s, drug courts have quickly become one of the leading intervention strategies for offenders exhibiting problems with drug abuse. Popular with policy makers for their innovative approach to breaking the drugs-crime nexus, drug courts are now considered one of the hallmarks of both the adult and juvenile justice systems of corrections. Empirical research has indicated that drug courts are one of the most promising contemporary correctional strategies in reducing recidivism among substance abusing offenders. This study examined a juvenile drug court in an effort to answer some recent research questions that have been proffered by empiricists. Results suggested that clients with a history of mental health problems had greater odds of being admitted to the drug court. No client characteristics, however, were predictive of client success in the drug court. Policy implications are also considered.


Barnes, J. C., Miller, H. V., & Miller, J. M. (n.d.). Identifying Leading Characteristics Associated with Juvenile Drug Court Admission and Success. 350-360.

Keywords: drug court admissions, drug court outcomes, juvenile drug court, mental health status


Juvenile Drug Court Effects on Recidivism and Drug Use: a Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Authors: Emily E. Tanner-Smith, Mark W. Lipsey, David B. Wilson
Journal: Journal of Experimental Criminology

Objectives To conduct a meta-analysis of the effects of juvenile drug courts on general recidivism, drug recidivism, and drug use, and to explore variability in effects across characteristics of the drug courts and juvenile participants.


Methods: We conducted a comprehensive literature search to identify randomized and controlled quasi-experimental studies that reported the effects of juvenile drug courts in the United States. Random-effects meta-analysis models were used to estimate mean odds ratio effect sizes, and meta-regression models were used to explore variability in effects.


Results: The literature search yielded 46 eligible evaluation studies. The meta-analysis found that, overall, juvenile drug courts were no more or less effective than traditional court processing, with mean effects sizes that were not statistically significant for general recidivism, drug recidivism, or drug use. There was statistically significant heterogeneity in those effect sizes, but none of the drug court or participant characteristics coded from the study reports were associated with that variability. However, the juvenile drug court evaluations were generally of poor methodological quality, with very few studies employing random assignment and many instances of substantial baseline differences between drug court and comparison groups.


Conclusions: Juvenile drug courts were not found to be categorically more or less effective than traditional court processing for reducing recidivism or drug use. The great variability in effects, nonetheless, suggests that there may be effective drug courts, but no distinctive characteristics of the more effective courts could be identified from the descriptive information provided in the generally low quality research studies.
currently available.


Tanner-Smith, E. E., Lipsey, M. W., & Wilson, D. B. (2016). Juvenile drug court effects on recidivism and drug use: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Experimental Criminology12(4), 477–513.

Keywords: drug courts, juveniles, meta-analysis, recidivism, substance use


Comparative Analysis of Recidivism Outcomes Following Drug Treatment Court in Vancouver, Canada

Authors: Julian M. Somers, Stefanie N. Rezansoff, Akm Moniruzzaman
Journal: International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology

Drug Treatment Courts (DTCs) integrate therapeutic interventions for substance using offenders with the administration of justice. Available evidence indicates that DTCs are effective at reducing recidivism, but it is not yet established whether they are equally effective for all subgroups of offenders. The current study investigates the comparative effectiveness of a Canadian DTC among subgroups defined by ethnicity, gender, prior offending, and the presence of a co-occurring mental disorder. Results indicate greater reductions in recidivism among female and Aboriginal participants, and no differences in recidivism associated with the presence or absence of co-occurring mental disorders or the number of prior convictions. Longer duration of involvement with the DTC program was positively associated with reduced recidivism. The effectiveness of DTCs with distinct subpopulations may be related to their composition and inclusion of expertise relevant to the needs of diverse participants.


Somers, J. M., Rezansoff, S. N., & Moniruzzaman, A. (2014). Comparative Analysis of Recidivism Outcomes Following Drug Treatment Court in Vancouver, Canada. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology58(6), 655–671.

Keywords: drug treatment court, recidivism, therapeutic jurisprudence


Family Drug Treatment Courts As Comprehensive Service Models: Cost Considerations

Authors: Jody Brook, Becci A. Akin, Margaret H. Lloyd Sieger, Michelle Johnson-Motoyama, Yueqi Yan
Journal: Juvenile and Family Court Journal

Literature on family drug treatment courts (FDTCs) suggests that parental participation in these courts is associated with improved substance abuse treatment and child welfare system outcomes. Despite these beneficial outcomes, FDTCs serve only 7-10% of eligible child welfare involved families. As part of a FDTC evaluation, this FDTC site sought to provide stakeholders with information about costs and benefits. Considering the program costs alongside the cost avoidance from reduced time in foster care, this analysis determined that FDTC participation resulted in a net savings
per child of $9,710. The cost component of the evaluation proved valuable,
challenging, and informative.


Brook, J., Akin, B. A., Lloyd, M. H., Johnson-Motoyama, M., & Yan, Y. (2016). Family Drug Treatment Courts As Comprehensive Service Models: Cost Considerations. Juvenile and Family Court Journal67(3), 23–43.

Keywords: cost analysis, family drug court, foster care, parenting education, substance abuse


Healing Families: Outcomes from a Family Drug Treatment Court

Authors: Dr. Jacqueline van Wormer, Ming‐Li Hsieh
Journal: Juvenile and Family Court Journal

Family drug treatment courts (FDTC) have been acknowledged as a promising intervention for substance-abusing parents involved in the child welfare system. Over the past decade, the number of FDTC programs has grown substantially, yet questions remain regarding the efficacy of these courts. This study examines the ability of the Snohomish County (WA) FDTC to address the three main goals of the Adoption and Safe Families Act. Utilizing propensity score matching, this study found that participants were more likely to have their children returned, experienced stronger treatment completion rates, and had less use of foster care. Implications for replication and further analysis are discussed.


van Wormer, J., & Hsieh, M.-L. (2016). Healing Families: Outcomes from a Family Drug Treatment Court. Juvenile and Family Court Journal67(2), 49–65.

Keywords: child welfare, family drug court, propensity score matching, quasi-experimental model, substance-abusing


How Does Family Drug Treatment Court Participation Affect Child Welfare Outcomes?

Authors: Elizabeth Joanne Gifford, Lindsey Morgan Eldred, Allison Vernerey, Frank Allen Sloan
Journal: Child Abuse & Neglect

Parental substance use is a risk factor for child maltreatment. Family drug treatment courts(FDTCs) have emerged in the United States as a policy option to treat the underlying condition and promote family preservation. This study examines the effectiveness of FDTCs in North Carolina on child welfare outcomes. Data come from North Carolina records from child protection services, court system, and birth records. Three types of parental participation in a FDTC are considered: referral, enrolling, and completing an FDTC. The sample includes 566 children who were placed into foster care and whose parents participated in a FDTC program. Findings indicate that children of parents who were referred but did not enroll or who enrolled but did not complete had longer stays in foster care than children of completers. Reunification rates for children of completers were also higher. Outcomes for children in the referred and enrolled groups did not differ in the multivariate analyses. While effective substance use treatment services for parents may help preserve families, future research should examine factors for improving participation and completion rates as well as factors involved in scaling programs so that more families are served.


Gifford, E. J., Eldred, L. M., Vernerey, A., & Sloan, F. A. (2014). How does family drug treatment court participation affect child welfare outcomes? Child Abuse & Neglect38(10), 1659–1670.

Keywords: child welfare, family drug treatment court, foster care, parental substance use


How Effective Are Family Treatment Drug Courts? Outcomes From a Four-Site National Study

Authors: Beth L. Green, Carrie Furrer, Sonia Worcel, Scott W. M. Burrus, Michael W. Finigan
Journal: Child Maltreatment

Family treatment drug courts (FTDCs) are a rapidly expanding program model designed to improve treatment and child welfare outcomes for families involved in child welfare who have substance abuse problems. The present study compares outcomes for 250 FTDC participants to those of similar parents who did not receive FTDC services in four sites. Results show that FTDC parents, compared to comparison parents, entered substance abuse treatment more quickly, stayed in treatment longer, and completed more treatment episodes. Furthermore, children of FTDC parents entered permanent placements more quickly and were more likely to be reunified with their parents, compared to children of non- FTDC participants. Finally, the FTDC program appears to have a “value added” in facilitating positive child welfare outcomes above and beyond the influence of positive treatment experiences.


Green, B. L., Furrer, C., Worcel, S., Burrus, S., & Finigan, M. W. (2007). How Effective Are Family Treatment Drug Courts? Outcomes From a Four-Site National Study. Child Maltreatment12(1), 43–59.

Keywords: courts, foster care, parenting, program evaluation, substance abuse


Measuring Client Satisfaction and Engagement: The Role of a Mentor Parent Program in Family Drug Treatment Court

Authors: Laurie Drabble, Lisa L. Haun, Hilary Kushins, Edward Cohen
Journal: Juvenile and Family Court Journal

Parent engagement is an important intermediate outcome in Family Drug Treatment Court (FDTC) and child welfare services. This study explored the utility and reliability of a client satisfaction and engagement survey designed to measure interim outcomes of a Mentor Parent Program, operating in conjunction with a FDTC. Findings suggest the survey is a useful, parsimonious and reliable tool for measuring key dimensions of parent mentor services including client engagement; client-centered support and empowerment; and help with systems navigation and accessing resources. The survey may be adapted for use in other FDTC or parent mentor contexts.


Drabble, L. A., Haun, L. L., Kushins, H., & Cohen, E. (2016). Measuring Client Satisfaction and Engagement: The Role of a Mentor Parent Program in Family Drug Treatment Court. Juvenile and Family Court Journal67(1), 19–32.

Keywords: addiction treatment, child welfare, family drug treatment court, mentor parents, peer mentor, program evaluation, recovery coach


The Baltimore City Drug Treatment Court: 3-Year Self-Report Outcome Study

Authors: Denise C. Gottfredson, Brook W. Kearley, Stacy S. Najaka, Carlos M. Rocha
Journal: Evaluation Review

This study reports results from interviews with 157 research participants who were interviewed 3 years after randomization into treatment and control conditions in the evaluation of the Baltimore City Drug Treatment Court. The interviews asked about crime, substance use, welfare, employment, education, mental and physical health, and family and social relationships. Program participants reported less crime and substance use than did controls. Few differences between groups were observed on other outcomes, although treatment cases were less likely than controls to be on the welfare rolls at the time of the interview. Effects differed substantially according to the originating court.


Gottfredson, D. C., Kearley, B. W., Najaka, S. S., & Rocha, C. M. (2005). The Baltimore City Drug Treatment Court: 3-Year Self-Report Outcome Study. Evaluation Review29(1), 42–64.

Keywords: drug treatment courts, randomized experiments


Opioid Exposure Associated with Poppy Consumption Reported to Poison Control Centers and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Authors: Eva Greenthal, Peter Lurie, Suzanne Doyon
Journal: Clinical Toxicology

Objective: To assess characteristics of exposures to contaminated poppy and identify trends in exposure and poppy-related deaths.


Methods: Cross-sectional analysis of adverse events associated with exposure to poppy products (primarily poppy seeds) from the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ National Poison Data System (NPDS), 2000–2018, supplemented with analysis of overdoses and deaths related to poppy from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition’s Adverse Event Reporting System (CAERS) (2004–2018), and the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS) (1968–2018).


Results: There were 591 NPDS exposure cases involving poppy between 2000 and 2018 including 392 in persons aged 13+. Rates of intentional exposures in NPDS increased among the age 13+ group over the study period. Most intentional exposures occurred in males in their teens and twenties. NPDS included 18 overdoses and three deaths likely attributable to poppy, most involving poppy seed tea. CAERS and FAERS included five additional deaths likely attributable to opioids in poppy.


Conclusions: Including previously reported cases, there are now at least 19 U.S. deaths associated with poppy seeds in the literature. We recommend that practitioners working in opioid treatment and recovery be alert to use of poppy to treat pain and symptoms of withdrawal.


Greenthal, E., Lurie, P., & Doyon, S. (2021). Opioid exposure associated with poppy consumption reported to poison control centers and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Clinical Toxicology0(0), 1–14.

Keywords: National Poison Data System, opioid overdose, poison control center, poppy seed, poppy tea


Reentry Court Judges: the Key to the Court

Authors: Christopher Salvatore, Venezia Michalsen, Caitlin Taylor
Journal: Journal of Offender Rehabilitation

Over the last few decades, treatment-oriented court judges have moved away from being neutral arbitrators in an adversarial court process to treatment facilitators. In the problem-solving court model, judges are part of a more therapeutic treatment process with program participants and a courtroom work group. The shift from the use of the traditional criminal justice process toward the use of more treatment-oriented models for some populations highlights the need to systematically document key elements of treatment court models. In particular, it is important to clearly document the role of Reentry Court Judges because they are a key component of the Reentry Court model. The current study used interviews with members of the courtroom work group, as well as a focus group interview of former participants in the program, to help identify the role of the judge and activities the judge engages. Findings revealed that the judges played a supportive, informal role, balanced with a more formal, authoritarian role, and the judges engaged participants in pre-court meetings, as well as courtroom sessions. Further, the judges facilitated interactions with program participants outside the courtroom, demonstrating that the judge is a core component of success for participants in Reentry Court.


Salvatore, C., Michalsen, V., & Taylor, C. (2020). Reentry court judges: The key to the court. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation; London59(4), 198–222.

Keywords: judges, probationers, reentry, reintegration, treatment


Reentry Court Research: Overview of Findings from the National Institute of Justice’s Evaluation of Second Chance Act Adult Reentry Courts

Authors: Shannon M. Carey, Michael Rempel, Christine H. Lindquist, Amanda Cissner, Lama Hassoun Ayoub, Dana Kralstein, Anna M. Malsch

Study Goals: This study of eight SCA reentry courts across the U.S. had four goals: 1. Describe the SCA reentry courts through a comprehensive process evaluation. 2. Determine the effectiveness of the SCA reentry courts at reducing recidivism and improving individual outcomes through a rigorous impact evaluation. 3. Conduct a cost-benefit analysis. 4. Contribute to the development of a “true“ reentry court model.


Methods: The study used a multi-method approach including 1. a process evaluation in all eight sites involving yearly site visits from 2012 to 2014 with key stakeholder interviews, observations, and participant focus groups; 2. a prospective impact evaluation (in four sites) including interviews at release from jail or prison and at 12 months after release (as well as oral swab drug tests) with reentry court participants and a matched comparison group; 3. a recidivism impact evaluation (in seven sites) with a matched comparison group tracking recidivism for 2 years post reentry court entry and 4. a cost-benefit evaluation (in seven sites) involving a transactional and institutional cost analysis (TICA) approach. Final administrative data were collected through the end of 2016.


Results: Results were mixed across sites. One site consistently demonstrated positive outcomes across the interview, recidivism, and cost analyses with the reentry court successfully delivering more substance abuse treatment and other services than what was received by the comparison group. In addition, reentry court participants out-performed the comparison group in reduced recidivism (re-arrests and re-conviction) and reincarceration (revocation and time in jail or prison). Two sites had neutral, trending toward positive, results with reduced participant re-arrests but with other outcomes (such as convictions and re-incarceration) not significantly different between the participants and the comparison group. Two other sites had mixed results (e.g., participants had significantly fewer re-arrests but significantly increased re-incarceration) and two had negative results (e.g., participants had significantly more re-arrests and incarceration while other outcomes were no different between groups). Cost findings were similarly mixed with two sites experiencing cost savings due mainly to lower recidivism costs and fewer victimization costs for reentry court participants ($2,512 and $6,710 saved per participant) and the remainder experiencing loss (ranging from just over -$1,000 to almost – $17,000 loss per participant). The research protocol and process evaluation findings are documented in three annual project reports; research caveats include a lack of detailed treatment service data. Also, reentry court program investment costs are described, but the comparison of cost estimates is limited to outcomes and does not include net benefits based on investment in non-reentry court case processing in the comparison group.


Conclusions: Key processes that set the one site with positive outcomes apart from the other sites was the high level of consistency and intensity of substance abuse treatment, wraparound services for multiple criminogenic needs, high intensity supervision, as well as an increased use of praise from the judge along with other incentives and sanctions. In addition, the eligibility criteria for this site required that participants have a substance use disorder with risk levels ranging from moderate to high (based on their local risk assessment with a three point scale that ranged from low to high). In contrast, other site eligibility criteria did not require a substance use disorder and participant risk levels were mostly high to very high (depending on the assessment tool used and their specific scoring and risk category criteria). It is possible that the sites with less positive results did not have the appropriate level and type of services consistently available to best serve the varying risk levels of their participants.


Carey, S. M., Rempel, M., Lindquist, C., Cissner, A., Ayoub, L. H., Kralstein, D., & Malsch, A. (2017). Reentry Court Research: Overview of Findings from the National Institute of Justice’s Evaluation of Second Chance Act Adult Reentry Courts (Overview/Summary No. 251496; pp. 1–33). Office of Justice Pro

Reentry Courts: An Emerging Use of Judicial Resources in the Struggle to Reduce the Recidivism of Released Offenders

Author: Daniel M. Fetsco
Journal: Wyoming Law Review

In the current system of criminal justice in the United States, most courts have little involvement with offenders once they are sentenced to prison. Certainly, prison inmates can and do appeal their convictions, but the appeals are heard by separate appellate courts. After release from prison on parole, or under some other form of supervised release, the court’s role in the affairs of the offender diminishes further. Parole officers are typically the agents of the criminal justice system who carry out the terms of the offender’s sentence once released, providing supervision and ideally assisting the offender’s transition back into the community. Parole officers accomplish this through working with offenders to help them avoid using drugs and alcohol, maintain curfews and daily schedules, abide by the law, and secure and maintain lawful employment. If an offender fails to follow the conditions of his or her supervision, it is the parole agent and parole board or other releasing authority who determines what sanctions shall be imposed in response to the violations.


Fetsco, D. M. (2013). Reentry Courts: An Emerging Use of Judicial Resources in the Struggle to Reduce the Recidivism of Released Offenders. Wyoming Law Review13(2), 591–614.

Keywords: judges, probationers, reentry, reintegration, treatment


Reentry Courts: Providing a Second Chance for Incarcerated Mothers and Their Children

Author: Erin McGrath
Journal: Family Court Review

Each year many incarcerated mothers are released from prison and must endure the difficult process of prisoner reentry. The rate of recidivism remains significantly high among this transitioning population, which negatively affects many children. The traditional parole system has not adequately addressed the complexities of a mother-prisoner’s reentry and reunification with her child. This Note proposes that states should expand or adopt the use of problem solving parole courts, or “Reentry Courts” to support a mother and her child through the transition from prison to home. Reentry Courts provide a multi-agency coordinated solution, which utilizes judicial authority for women seeking to transform their lives and reunify with their children upon their release from prison.


McGrath, E. (2012). Reentry Courts: Providing a Second Chance for Incarcerated Mothers and Their Children. Family Court Review50(1), 113–127.

Keywords: child, incarcerated mother, prisoner reentry, problem solving court, reentry, reentry court, reunification


The Missing Pieces in Federal Reentry Courts: A Model for Success Note

Author: Kristin Brown Parker
Journal: Drexel Law Review

With incarceration rates at an all-time high and over-criminalization rampant, there is a growing need for programs aimed at rehabilitating ex-offenders following release from prison. These programs are critical to combatting the collateral consequences associated with imprisonment. Perhaps the most significant of those collateral consequences ex-offenders face are housing and employment. More specifically, due to ex-offenders’ criminal histories, landlords may refuse to rent spaces to ex-offenders, and employers may discriminate against them. Although there has been significant progress in the area of employment by way of “Ban the Box” legislation, which prohibits employers from requiring applicants to disclose criminal history, there is still much progress to be made. There is a growing trend toward combating collateral consequences and assisting ex-offenders in successfully rehabilitating following release from prison through a collaboration between courts and correctional institutions. Specifically, local, state, and federal reentry courts are cropping up throughout the country with the goal of assisting ex-offenders in securing housing and employment, and addressing additional issues ex-offenders face following reentry into the community. While all of these programs are a step in the right direction toward providing necessary assistance to ex-offenders, some are more effective than others, and Philadelphia’s Federal Reentry Court has proven to be especially successful.


Parker, K. B. (2015). The Missing Pieces in Federal Reentry Courts: A Model for Success Note. Drexel Law Review8(2), 397–424.



A Hero’s Welcome? Exploring the Prevalence and Problems of Military Veterans in the Arrestee Population

Authors: Michael D. White, Philip Mulvey, Andrew M. Fox, David Choate
Journal: Justice Quarterly

The potential for veterans to end up in the criminal justice system as a result of physical and psychological problems that may be combat‐related has generated much interest, illustrated most recently by the development of specialized veterans’ courts. However, little is known about how often veterans are arrested and incarcerated, the nature of their problems, or the extent to which their military service has contributed to their criminality. Using interview data from 2,102 arrestees booked in Maricopa County (AZ) during 2009, this paper examines the problems and prior experiences of arrested military veterans and compares veteran and non‐veteran arrestees along a range of measures. Results indicate that veterans comprise 6.3% of the arrestee population, and that more than 50% of veterans report suffering from at least one combat‐related problem including physical injury, post‐traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), other mental health problems, and substance abuse. Multivariate analysis indicates that veteran arrestees differ from non‐veterans on a number of key measures, most notably more frequent arrests for violent offenses and greater use of crack cocaine and opiates. The paper concludes with a discussion of implications for the potential link between military service and criminality as well as for criminal justice policy and practice.


White, M. D., Mulvey, P., Fox, A. M., & Choate, D. (2012). A Hero’s Welcome? Exploring the Prevalence and Problems of Military Veterans in the Arrestee Population. Justice Quarterly29(2), 258–286.

Keywords: combat-related problems and crime, military and crime, veterans and crime


An Analysis of Successful Outcomes and Associated Contributing Factors in Veterans’ Court

Authors: R. Scott Johnson, Andrea Stolar, Emily Wu, Loretta A. Coonan
Journal: Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic

This study aims to examine the extent to which a veteran’s propensity for arrest following separation from veterans’ court is associated with that veteran’s length of stay within the program, type of discharge, or number of judicial sanctions issued. This is a retrospective chart review that focuses on the first 100 participants in the Harris County Veterans’ Court Program. After controlling for a number of demographic factors, both arrests during enrollment in the veterans’ court program (p = .031) and Factor Score 1 (unsuccessful discharge, fewer months in the veterans’ court program, and more months of follow up) (p = .042) were predictive of arrest following separation from the veterans’ court program. In addition, a prior diagnosis of opiate misuse was also predictive of arrest following separation (p < .001). Given these findings, veterans’ court judges and program administrators might examine ways of continuing enrollment for veterans at highest risk for recidivism.


Johnson, R. S., Stolar, A. G., Wu, E., Coonan, L. A., & Graham, D. P. (2015). An analysis of successful outcomes and associated contributing factors in veterans’ court. Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic79(2), 166–173.



Exploring Therapeutic and Militaristic Contexts in a Veteran Treatment Court

Authors: Tyler J. Vaughan, Lisa Bell Holleran, and Rachel Brooks
Journal: Criminal Justice Policy Review

Recently, the number of veteran treatment courts (VTCs) has greatly expanded. These courts, based on drug treatment court processes, attempt to handle the underlying causes of criminal conduct as well as the instant offense. There is, however, no research that addresses how the military manifests in VTC. We suggest that participants import military culture into VTC processes and that the military will have an influence on VTC proceedings. The purpose of this study is to examine how military and specialty court approaches appear in the VTC. Using results from field research in a VTC in Texas, we find the military has profound influences in VTC proceedings. Military references serve the purpose of structuring the court docket, helping develop rapport between court staff and participants, as well as creating a familiar context for participants. We highlight the value and potential problems of relying on military culture. Policy implications and directions for future research are discussed.


Vaughan, T. J., Bell Holleran, L., & Brooks, R. (2019). Exploring Therapeutic and Militaristic Contexts in a Veteran Treatment Court. Criminal Justice Policy Review30(1), 79–101.

Keywords: fieldwork, military culture, qualitative research, veteran treatment courts


Healing the Wounds: An Examination of Veterans Treatment Courts in the Context of Restorative Justice

Authors: Julie Marie Baldwin, Joseph Rukus
Journal: Criminal Justice Policy Review

Controversy exists regarding whether specialized courts, specifically drug courts, adhere to the restorative justice model. Veterans treatment courts (VTCs) are the newest programmatic innovation in the specialized court arena and have not been widely studied to date. This study utilizes data from the first in-depth case study of a VTC and explores whether it embodies the restorative justice ideal. Using both quantitative and qualitative data, we find that the VTC does not fully embody the restorative justice agenda, but it adheres closer to the ideal than drug courts.


Baldwin, J. M., & Rukus, J. (2015). Healing the Wounds: An Examination of Veterans Treatment Courts in the Context of Restorative Justice. Criminal Justice Policy Review26(2), 183–207.

Keywords: veterans court, veterans treatment court, restorative justice, restorative practice,
specialized courts, criminal justice policy


Varieties of Veterans’ Courts: A Statewide Assessment of Veterans’ Treatment Court Components

Authors: Anne S. Douds, Eileen M. Ahlin, Daniel Howard, Sarah Stigerwalt
Journal: Criminal Justice Policy Review

Since the mid-2000s, there has been an upsurge in the development of Veterans’ Treatment Courts (VTCs) to support justice-involved veterans’ treatment needs while also providing criminal justice supervision. Despite their prolific development in recent years, there is a dearth of scholarly research on how VTCs are structured and whether there are common components across courts. There is a need to understand how VTCs are structured and operationally implemented to inform additional program planning and evaluation. To bridge this gap in the literature, this study provides a statewide assessment of the 17 VTCs operating in Pennsylvania, identifies six common components, and highlights areas in which their implementation diverges between courts to meet the specific needs of veterans across Pennsylvania. The results of this study provide a baseline framework to aid future researchers in conducting process and outcome evaluations by documenting and examining the common components of VTCs.


Douds, A. S., Ahlin, E. M., Howard, D., & Stigerwalt, S. (2017). Varieties of Veterans’ Courts: A Statewide Assessment of Veterans’ Treatment Court Components. Criminal Justice Policy Review28(8), 740–769.

Keywords: community corrections, courts, therapeutic jurisprudence


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