Implementing Drug Courts in New York City: Lessons from Three Evaluations

Rachel Porter, The Vera Institute of Justice

Between 1998 and 2001, the Vera Institute of Justice conducted implementation evaluations of new drug treatment courts in Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan. New York City now has drug treatment courts in four of its five boroughs, along with a range of other court-based treatment options. This paper will present evaluation data and will discuss drug courts in the context of other sentencing alternatives. Implementation findings include descriptive information about participant characteristics and pleas, drug treatment modality, preliminary retention information and participant perceptions of the utility of drug court components. Court and treatment observation and stakeholder interviews provide additional descriptions about how these drug courts function. Critical issues in treatment court implementation include: 1. the relationship between severity of offence and treatment need; 2. interrelating treatment courts with existing alternative sentencing; and 3. net-widening and the implications of increasing the role of courts.

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Updated 05/20/2006