Drug Court Treatment Programs: Predictors of Successful Completion

Alison R. Gray, University of Delaware
Christine A. Saum, University of Delaware
Frank Scarpitti, University of Delaware
Clifford A. Butzin, University of Delaware

The extant literature often utilizes retention ([total number of graduates + total active clients]/total ever enrolled in the program) to predict success in criminal justice based treatment programs. It has been found that programs with higher rates of retention have higher rates of successful completion. However, drug court often give clients multiple chances for success -- clients who struggle through the program are likely sanctioned with more time in drug court treatment. Quite often, these clients are eventually terminated. Consequentially, retention rates can be misleading when used in predicting rates of success. Rather than looking at how long clients are retained in the program, this research proposes using a more comprehensive engagement rate, which accounts for the total treatment attendance as well as lenmgth of stay in the drug court program.

This paper will demonstrate the empirical difference between using retention and engagement rates to predict drug court completion. Using a sample of 284 drug court clients, client and program characteristics will be examined to predict successful completion. Both the standard measure of retention and the proposed engagement rate will be used in the analysis.

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Updated 05/20/2006