Predictors of Success in Drug Court Treatment: Findings From Four New York State Adult Drug Courts

Melissa Labriola, Center for Court Innovation
Dana Fox, Center for Court Innovation
Michael Rempel, Center for Court Innovation

Corresponding with their vast national expansion, as of December 2001 there were 35 operating adult drug courts in New York State alone. These courts provide an alternative-to-incarceration, coupled with intensive judicial monitoring, to substance abusers arrested for nonviolent offenses. A large body of existing research has identified significant predictors of success in treatment. However, fewer studies have focused specifically on drug courts, and hardly any have applied a comparable research design across multiple sites, spanning large urban, suburban, and medium-size city jurisdictions. Accordingly, this study analyzes predictors of success across four New York State drug courts-Brooklyn Treatment Court, Queens Treatment Court, Suffolk Drug Treatment Court, and Syracuse Community Treatment Court - varying in population size, demographics, and baseline participant characteristics. The dependent variable, for three of the courts, is graduation versus failure for participants enrolled at least two years prior to the analysis. In Brooklyn, the dependent variable is whether the participant is retained as of the two-year mark. Synthesizing cross-site results, participation in the thirty-days immediately following program entry strongly predicts ultimate success. Also predicting success in multiple courts were prior criminal history, age, sex, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, primary drug of choice, and level of legal coercion (i.e., incarceration time faced in the event of program failure). Key differences across the four sites are interpreted, and policy implications are discussed.

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Updated 05/20/2006