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Impact and Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Anchorage Wellness Court

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2008
73 pages
This study estimated the costs and benefits of processing misdemeanor DUI (driving under the influence) cases in the Anchorage Wellness Court (AWC), a specialized court that uses principles of therapeutic jurisprudence.
Generally, the study found that the AWC was effective in reducing recidivism and associated harms for those who chose to participate in the AWC. Among those who were referred to the AWC but who did not choose to enter the program (the "Opt-Out Group"), there was no effect on some outcomes and negative effects on other outcomes, including a finding that this group caused substantial additional harms to society. Thus, if the AWC is assessed solely on the effectiveness of serving those who were sufficiently motivated to enroll in the program, the results indicate the AWC is an unqualified success for DUI offenders; however, if the program is measured by its effectiveness in serving all those referred to it, which is a goal of the program, then the program's effectiveness is modest. The AWC began serving misdemeanor DUI offenders in Anchorage, AK in August 1999, with the goal of reducing alcohol-related offending through treatment and increased individual accountability. Two sets of comparisons were made in estimating the effect of AWC on participants' behavior. The study first compared the outcomes for 277 individuals who were eligible for the AWC. Of these individuals, 141 had no contact with the program; and 136 were referred to the program. Although not everyone who was referred to the program formally enrolled, all who were referred received at least some exposure to the AWC. 25 tables, 2 figures, 97 references, and appended unweighted results, cost-benefit results, and outcome analysis

Date Published: July 1, 2008