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Drug Court Movement: Recommendations for Improvements

NCJ Number
Corrections Today Magazine Volume: 64 Issue: 5 Dated: August 2002 Pages: 52-54,120,123
Shelley Johnson Listwan; Deborah Koetzle Shaffer; Edward J. Latessa
Date Published
August 2002
5 pages
This article summarizes findings from a survey of 11 common pleas (felony) drug courts throughout Ohio to determine their team member involvement, eligibility criteria, reward and sanctions, drug testing policies, and graduation criteria.
The drug courts surveyed all provide community-based treatment services, judicial monitoring, and frequent urinalysis. The eligibility criteria used by each court are based on the current and past behavior of the defendant and his/her willingness to participate in the services provided. Typically, the courts accept participants who have been arrested for drug or drug-related crime or those who have exhibited drug problems. The judge, prosecutor, and treatment agency typically screen potential participants. Offenders often are given a suspended sentence of jail or prison time to be invoked if they fail to comply with the program conditions. Exclusionary criteria typically include traffickers; those with histories of violence, sex offenses, or mental illness; and those with acute health conditions. Offenders who refuse to participate in the drug court program have their cases adjudicated through traditional courts and typically receive probation, or in some cases, jail or prison time. The drug-court programs surveyed ranged in length from 12 to 26 months. All the courts reported having graduation criteria in place. All the courts reported that offenders must complete treatment to be eligible for graduation. Recommendations based on survey findings are to improve the assessment process by adopting a standardized risk and need instrument that includes criminogenic needs in addition to substance addiction; direct the drug court team to review the literature on effective programming and adopt the model across the entire program; reward appropriate behavior and participation in treatment; provide aftercare sessions to the client to provide long-term supervision and treatment; and work with an evaluator during program implementation. 38 references


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