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Developing a Multicenter Randomized Trial in Criminology: The Case of HIDTA

NCJ Number
Journal of Quantitative Criminology Volume: 16 Issue: 3 Dated: September 2000 Pages: 315-340
Date Published
September 2000
26 pages

This article investigates the applicability in criminal justice settings of a multicenter randomized trial.


In criminal justice, as in other fields, an experimental study conducted at a single site does not offer a solid base upon which to make strong public policy recommendations. The "multicenter clinical trial," developed in clinical studies in medicine, demands implementation of a single experimental protocol at multiple sites. The article contrasts the multicenter approach with other methods and provides a substantive example of an ongoing multicenter criminal justice study. Using the example of the High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) evaluation of drug treatment programs currently being conducted at multiple sites, the article illustrates components of the multicenter approach as well as potential drawbacks of its application in crime and justice studies. The article argues that the model of a multicenter trial can be applied successfully to multisite criminal justice experiments. It claims that problems in defining regimented treatments, in ensuring treatment integrity and consistency and in developing and implementing common protocols and methods across sites can be overcome. Notes, tables, references

Date Published: September 1, 2000