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Increasing Our Understanding of the Recovery Process Through Drug Court Narratives, Executive Summary

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 1999
13 pages
Publication Series
This is a summary report on research that examined the relationship between client compliance with drug court requirements (Syracuse Community Treatment Court) and client problems, issues, and concerns.
Project staff observed and wrote field notes during 104 open-court sessions at which 168 clients were scheduled to appear between January 15, 1997, and April 28, 1999. The first step in the research involved the measurement of the extent to which a given client was compliant with the requirements of the program at each hearing at which she/he was scheduled to appear. The second step in the research was to create a "recovery profile" of clients based upon their compliance status at each hearing. Using a client/date as a "hearing episode" resulted in 2,523 cases coded for the project. Twelve client problems accounted for 60 percent of those identified by clients to the judge. Job-related concerns topped the list of problems, followed by legal problems, physical health, housing, problems with Medicaid eligibility, mental health, schooling, children, money, disagreements with treatment providers and case managers, family or relationships, and concerns about graduating from the drug court. The analysis of compliance found four distinct patterns of recovery among program graduates. Project staff labeled these four groups as "clear sailers" (the six people who were compliant throughout the participation period); "late bloomers" (those 13 graduates who initially had some episodes of noncompliance but later demonstrated compliance, except for perhaps a minor problem, for the last several months of participation); "occasional stumblers" (six graduates who were mostly compliant but experienced a period of noncompliance at the end of the participation period); and "chronic stumblers" (those nine graduates who were noncompliant at times throughout the participation period but who were nevertheless sufficiently compliant to graduate). "Clear sailers" were less likely than other recovery types to report problems, especially at the individual and structural levels. The relationship between the nature of graduates' problems and their patterns of recovery suggests that treatment providers and case managers should be more attentive to the role that problems associated with coping with the criminal justice system, the health care system, and the social service system play in the recovery experiences of clients involved in the criminal justice system. 26 references

Date Published: December 1, 1999