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Detailed Cost Analysis in a Mature Drug Court Setting: A Cost-Benefit Evaluation of the Multnomah County Drug Court

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2003
120 pages
This study examined investment costs and benefits of the operation of a single drug court in Multnomah County, OR.
The research was designed to collect detailed data on a small, randomly selected sample of individuals who were eligible for drug court. These individuals -- some of whom participated in drug court and some who received traditional court processing -- were tracked through both the criminal justice and drug court treatment system in order to collect more detailed data than were generally available in administrative datasets. These data were then used to augment administrative data for a much larger sample of drug court and non-drug court participants. The detailed data were collected by tracking drug-court eligible offenders into court sessions, attorney visits, and treatment sessions. The research determined the exact amount of resources used as each individual moved through the drug-court system or the traditional system of case processing. The larger sample consisted of 1,167 individuals who were eligible for drug court (594 drug-court participants and 573 non-drug court participants). These two groups were matched on demographics and criminal history. For 30 months after the arrest of each subject, investment and outcome costs were calculated for both the drug-court and the traditional processing. The total investment costs per client of the drug court were less (by $1,441.52) than the investment costs per client of the traditional case processing of drug-eligible offenders. In terms of outcome costs, the drug-court processing saved $2,328.89 per participant, although the savings was not spread equally among the agencies involved. Total cost savings of drug-court cases over a 30-month period compared with traditional case processing averaged $5,071.57 per drug-court participant, including victimization costs. 15 tables, 42 references, and appended data collection forms and instructions, as well as a description of drug court and non-drug court processing

Date Published: July 1, 2003