Home > Drug courts’ effects on criminal offending for juveniles and adults.

Mitchell, Ojmarrh and Wilson, David B and Eggers, Amy and MacKenzie,, Doris L (2012) Drug courts’ effects on criminal offending for juveniles and adults. Campbell Systematic Reviews, 8, (1), doi: 10.4073/csr.2012.4.

External website: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.4073/c...

Drug courts are specialized courts in which court actors collaboratively use the legal and moral authority of the court to monitor drug-involved offenders’ abstinence from drug use via frequent drug testing and compliance with individualized drug treatment programs. The objective of this review was to systematically review quasi-experimental and experimental evaluations of the effectiveness of drug courts in reducing future offending and drug use.

The systematic search identified 154 independent, eligible evaluations, 92 evaluations of adult drug courts, 34 of juvenile drug courts, and 28 of drunk-driving (DWI) drug courts. The findings most strongly support the effectiveness of adult drug courts, as even the most rigorous evaluations consistently find reductions in recidivism and these effects generally persist for at least three years. The magnitude of this effect is analogous to a drop in general and drug-related recidivism from 50% for non-participants to approximately 38% for participants. The evidence also suggests that DWI drug courts are effective in reducing recidivism and their effect on recidivism is very similar in magnitude to that of adult drug courts (i.e., a reduction in recidivism of approximately 12 percentage points); yet, some caution is warranted, as the few available experimental evaluations of DWI drug courts do not uniformly support their effectiveness. For juvenile drug courts we find considerably smaller effects on recidivism. The mean effect size for these courts is analogous to a drop in recidivism from 50% for non-participants to roughly 43.5% for participants.

Item Type
Publication Type
International, Open Access, Review
Drug Type
All substances
Intervention Type
Crime prevention
February 2012
Identification #
doi: 10.4073/csr.2012.4
86 p.
The Campbell Collaboration
Place of Publication
Accession Number
HRB (Electronic Only)

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