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Nevada Reentry Drug Court Demonstration

NCJ Number
John S. Goldkamp; Michael D. White
Date Published
January 2003
91 pages
This report describes the development and implementation of the Nation's first "re-entry" drug courts (Clark County and Washoe County, NV), which provide for the release to drug courts of prison inmates within 2 years of their expected parole dates.
The 2-year demonstration project was designed to relieve prison crowding by releasing eligible offenders into the community under the jurisdiction of a drug court for intensive drug treatment under judicial supervision. A total of 150 inmates participated in the program at the 2 sites. This report describes and assesses three specific phases in the development and implementation of the project. Assessment of these phases was conducted through data collection during site visits to both jurisdictions; researchers used a variety of data-collection methods, including in-person and phone interviews of key court, treatment, and corrections officials, as well as a review of treatment and court files. In Phase I, the pre-implementation period, the researchers found initial problems with funding, overcoming budget concerns, and the securing of funding from the U.S. Department of Justice. In Phase II, the first stages of operation, the research found that each demonstration site developed its programs and devised approaches to identify appropriate target populations and then recruited them through effective screening and enrollment procedures. The drug courts at the two sites adopted different versions of the re-entry court model; however, both courts emphasized a number of features believed to be related to program success, including intensive supervision, the securing and maintenance of appropriate housing, stable employment, and regular participation in an enhanced drug court treatment regimen. The initial screening process failed to produce a sufficient number of acceptable candidates; and when candidates were identified, the process of moving them from prison to the re-entry program took too long. A combination of factors severely limited the implementation of the projects at both sites, resulting in only a small number of eligible candidates being identified, screened, and enrolled in the programs. In Phase III, "finding the rhythm," changes to the original legislation and a change in Department of Corrections leadership enabled both programs to become fully implemented with efficient screening and enrollment mechanisms and impressive interagency cooperation. Despite the different developmental experiences in the two demonstration sites, both programs have succeeded in enrolling participants with similar backgrounds, and both programs have experienced positive early outcomes. Participants in both programs averaged 150 days in treatment, and the vast majority remain active and in good standing in the program. Only one person has been arrested on new charges. The report concludes by offering recommendations in the areas of identifying and enrolling candidates, layering discretion and jurisdiction, incentives and sanctions for managing participant behavior, and the long-term contribution of the demonstration projects. 19 references and appended relevant legislation