Impact Analyses of Three New York State Adult Drug Courts: Results From Quasi-Experimental Designs

Dana Fox, Center for Court Innovation
Amanda Cissner, Center for Court Innovation

Results will be presented from a multi-site impact evaluation of three large and diverse adult drug courts in New York State -- the Suffolk, Syracuse, and Rochester Treatment Courts. All three include several commond rug court components: a dedicated drug court judge, regular court appearances, intermediate rewards and sanctions, and jail or prison in the event of failure. They all accept defendants arrested on drug and non-drug misdemeanors and felonies, as well as probation violators and those with a prior felony conviction. Suffolk is a suburban court located outside of New York City, whereas Syracuse and Rochester are medium-sized city courts, located in upsate New York. Syracuse and Rochester have both pre- and post-plea adjudication, while Suffolk is strictly post-plea. Syracuse has the most demographically diverse population and Suffolk has the most socioeconomically advantaged participants. Suffolk has the largest percentage of participants claiming heroin as the primary drug of choice. All three evaluations will employ quasi-experimental designs that match comparison group defendants on charges and criminal history. The Suffolk and Syracuse comparison groups will be "pre-post," drawing on defendants arrested in the year before the programs' start-up. Rochester, however, employs a unique rotating arraignment judge model. For this reason, as well as the historical staunch lack of support for the drug court by most arraignment judges, the comparison group in Rochester will be drawn from a contemporaneous sample of defendants who were not arraigned by either of the Judges who have shown continued support for the drug court. In all three analyses, propensity score matching techniques will be utilized to assure the drug court and comparison group samples are comparable on criminal history, arrest charge, and basic demographic measures. Recidivism rates will be compared for post-arrest and post-program recidivism. Two- and three-year post arrest time periods will be reported; a one-year time frame will be used for the post-program analysis. Results will also be presented for a survival analysis extending over the three-year post-arrest period. Lastly, results will be presented on an analysis of drug court impact on various key offender subgroups, based on prior misdemeanor convictions, prior felony convictions, current charge type, age, gender, and race/ethnicity.

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Updated 05/20/2006