Tuesday, November 20, 2007

More NCJRS Abstracts, Drug Court Articles, Part One


NCJ 220271
Andrew L. Giacomazzi; Valerie Bell
Drug Court Program Monitoring: Lessons Learned About Program Implementation and Research Methodology
Criminal Justice Policy Review
Volume:18 Issue:3 Dated:September 2007 Pages:294 to 312

This article reviews the implementation of a drug court in a Southern State, discusses benchmarks for effective programs from the drug-court literature, and examines findings and lessons learned about program implementation and research methodology from a process evaluation that used multiple methods for assessing program implementation. The process evaluation of a drug court found clear evidence that the program as implemented complies with benchmarks identified in the literature as "best practices" for drug court operations. The benchmarks include the use of empirically validated and theoretically driven treatment models, ongoing judicial interaction with each drug court participant through regular status hearings, ongoing assessments of treatment services, internal evaluations of drug-court staff regarding service delivery as well as external evaluations of program process and outcomes, the use of a compliance officer to reward cooperation and respond effectively to noncompliance, drug testing, and the use of a collaborative rather than an adversarial processing of cases. Multiple methods were used in assessing the implementation of the drug court. These included face-to-face interviews with all key program personnel, a focus group interview of drug court clients, observations of drug court proceedings, a review of existing county drug court documents, and the collection of archival data from client files. One of the lessons learned is that conducting comprehensive presite interviews helps in establishing the credibility of the researchers with program administrators. A second lesson learned is that researchers should not only compare program implementation with benchmarks in the literature, but also those set by the drug court being studied. Other lessons are that researchers should inform program administrators about the nature of the evaluation process and that researchers should be open to changing research plans once in the field. 1 table, appended presite interview, and 22 references

NCJ 220272
Corey J. Colyer
Innovation and Discretion: The Drug Court as a People-Processing Institution
Criminal Justice Policy Review
Volume:18 Issue:3 Dated:September 2007 Pages:313 to 329

Based on observational data obtained over a 2-year period, this article describes the ways in which drug courts process program participants, with a focus on the challenges faced by drug court staff in guiding new program participants into treatment. The court-related observations show that drug-court staff and advocates are enthusiastic about how offenders are processed because they believe it is consistent with the nature and causes of substance abuse and how drug-related behaviors can be changed, along with drug-related criminal behavior. This is done through a collaborative, more than an adversarial process that focuses on how best to address the needs and problems of the offender. Still, defense attorneys are involved in order to ensure that due process rights of drug-court participants are protected in the course of applying sanctions designed to ensure compliance with treatment. Further, coercive treatment must be careful not to give the client the impression that the court is more interested in punishing them for failure than in helping them achieve success in treatment. The causes of failure must be addressed in ways that increase the chance of success. Failure is not always the fault of the client; it may also reside in the failure of the treatment protocol to tailor itself to the specific needs and characteristics of a client. People processing in the drug court consists of locating appropriate defendants for participation, making an adequate diagnosis, locating compatible treatment, and constructively managing and maintaining the participant once placed. 12 notes and 40 references

NCJ 220267
Faith E. Lutze; Jacqueline G. van Wormer
Nexus Between Drug and Alcohol Treatment Program Integrity and Drug Court Effectiveness: Policy Recommendations for Pursuing Success
Criminal Justice Policy Review
Volume:18 Issue:3 Dated:September 2007 Pages:226 to 245

After drawing attention to the connection between the effectiveness of the drug court criminal justice process and the integrity of the treatment modalities to which drug court clients are referred, this article offers recommendations for drug court professionals in ensuring the integrity of the treatment programs used by the court. The distinctiveness and ultimate effectiveness of the drug court model is its reliance upon substance abuse treatment rather than punitive sentencing as a means of preventing or reducing reoffending. This requires that the treatment programs used by drug courts be regularly assessed for their effectiveness in treating clients with diverse needs and characteristics according to gender, cultural background, and mental disorders. This effort may be compromised by staff turnover on the drug court team and failure to provide continuing education for staff on the mission, philosophy, and treatment modalities that drive the drug court model. Because of staff turnover and failure to provide adequate training for new staff, drug courts may drift away from their original mission. In order to prevent deterioration of the drug court model, Federal agencies must move beyond drug court implementation to the technology transfer that is required to support evidence-based substance-abuse treatment. Also, drug court teams must be schooled in evidence-based treatment efforts and ensure that their treatment providers are engaged in such efforts. Further, drug courts must embrace medical technology and findings by adopting a biobehavioral or "brain disease" model of substance addiction. In addition, treatment providers must improve the structural weakness of operations that directly influence treatment integrity. Finally, interagency collaborations must be effectively managed in order to provide a continuum of care in which the process itself does not undermine treatment methods and goals. 72 references

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