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Long Term Effects of Drug Court Participation Evidence From a 15 Year Follow up of a Randomized Controlled Trial

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2017
157 pages
This dissertation compares 15-year recidivism, incarceration, and mortality outcomes for the 235 subjects who participated in a 3-year follow-up of recidivism and self-reported crime and substance use after participation in the randomized trial of the Baltimore City Drug Treatment Court (BCDTC).

The 3-year follow-up data from the BCDTC showed that participation in the program reduced recidivism and that subjects self-reported less crime and substance use than did controls who participated in traditional probation. In addition to extending the follow-up from 3 to 15 years, the current study compared differences in recidivism growth over time between drug-court participants and the control group. Findings indicate that participation in the BCDTC resulted in significantly fewer arrests, charges, and convictions across the 15 years. Those who participated in the circuit drug court had significantly better outcomes than those who participated in the district drug court. On the other hand, differences in the rate of growth did not increase over time as hypothesized. Participation in the BCDTC did not have a significant effect on total days of sentenced incarceration or on mortality risk. The study concludes that drug courts' effectiveness with high-risk drug offenders has been demonstrated in several studies, with the current sample appearing to work best with offenders convicted of more serious charges. The study recommends that due to the cost and additional administrative responsibilities of drug courts, states and localities should consider reserving these specialized courts for those with the greatest need, with less intensive services provided for offenders who are able to self-regulate their substance use. Future research is suggested. 24 tables, 5 figures, 180 references, and appended data on various variables in the 15-year comparison of drug court participants and controls

Date Published: September 1, 2017