1 II -1 1 Drug Courts and Treatment: Lessons To Be Learned from the "What Works" Literatu re Shelley Johnson, Dana Jones Hubbard, and Edward}, Latessa Drug courts have emerged as a viable T hroughout the past fe~ decade~, alternative public policy option to deal with the courts that deal specifically WIth drug ~d onslaught of drug offenders. The model alcohol offenders have emerged, The Ill-... crease in the number of drug courts across stands m contr~t ~o ~adl.tz~nal cour~. the country is staggering. As of 1998, a total of 275 models by combmmg]udlclal supervision drug court programs were in operation, serving an and community-based treatment in an estimated 90,000 offenders (Drug Court Programs effort to change offender behavior. Office, 1998). Moreover, the Drug Court Programs Drawingfrom the enormous gains in Office, Office of Justice Programs (1998) reported knowledge regarding the effective that another 155 are in the planning process, (This treatment of offenders, this.., article outlines article is limited to the dedicated drug treatment rt S.al' d rtth t ' d edl'. '. cou s. pecl lze cou s a provl e exp ted suggestions for focusing attention on the case management without community-based treattype and quality of treatmen t services. The ment are not discussed.) One major reason for this principles of effective intervention are gro\nth stems from the popular view that drug courts outlined and suggestions are made as to will reduce substance abuse and criminal recidivism how they should be included in the effort through frequent judicial monitoring and commuto reduce substance abuse and recidivism.., nity-based ' treatment services, By adding a commu-.. m ty - b ase d tr ea t men t componen, t th ese specl. alized among drug court participants, courts represent a major shift in how drug-involved Keywords: drug courts, treatment~ what works offenders are processed and given access to treatment services, However, little attention is given to the type and quality of the community-based treatments offered. This article addresses several key issues pertaining to the likelihood that drug courts will achieve their goals. First, a description of how the drug court Shelley Johnson, MS, is a Research Associate, Center for Criminal Justice Research, University of Cincinnati, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Dana Jones Hubbard, MS, is a Research Associate, Center for Criminal Justice Research, University of Cincinnati. Edward J. Latessa, PhD, is Professor and Head, Division of Criminal Justice, University of Cincinnati, Ohio. Address correspondence to Shelley Johnson. Division of Criminal Corrections Management Quarterly (4} Justice, P.O. Box ; University of Cincinnati. Cincinnati, 2000 Aspen Publishers. Inc ; 70
2 II Drug Courts and Treatment 71 model has become a therapeutic alternative to tradi- drug courts are still in treatment (primarily outpationalcourtprocessingis examined. Second, a review of the extant literature surrounding the effectiveness tient drug-free) after one year" (p.21). In traditional courts, judicial monitoring is binof the drug court model is addressed. Even though dered by burdened court dockets. Drug court judges, the current drug court literature is limited, the cor- however, are key players in the treatment and superrectional treatment literature indicates that commu- vision of drug-involved offenders (Drug Court Pronity-based treatment offers a distinct advantage over grams Office, 1997; Goldkamp, 1994; Tauber, 1994). initiatives relying on enhanced enforcement and in- In the drug court model, judges hold regular status carceration. However, not all treatment programs are review hearings with the offender, the counsel, and based on theoretically grounded principles. Re- often a representative from the service provider. search indicates that the quality and delivery of ser- These hearings provide an opportunity for the judge vices are essential to effectiveness. Given the lack of to monitor participants' progress in treatment, proresearch specifically devoted to drug court treatment vide feedback (both positive and negative) to participrograms, the third objective is to describe the re- pants, and maintain offender accountability. Moresearch-based principles of effective intervention and over, the treatment agencies have a systematic their relevance to drug court practitioners. To in- opportunity to give feedback to judges, thus allowing crease effectiveness, drug courts cannot simply pro- for the opportunity to reward or hold the offender vide a "black box" of treatment services, but rather more accountable. should consult the current literature regarding the Finally, in addition to the role of the judge, comprinciples of effective intervention and hold their munity-based treatment is a crucial component of treatment referrals to these standards. many drug courts. Experience and research demonstrate that drug addiction is a chronic, relapsing con- The Drug Court Model dition not effectively addressed by increasing sanc- Drug courts differ from traditional court models in tioning (see, e.g., Belenko, Mara-Drita, & McElroy, 1992; Fagan, 1994). In contrast, research reveals that several key ways. One major departure pertains to drug addiction is responsive to appropriate treathow cases are managed. Specifically, drug courts ment. There is a growing body of evidence indicating manage cases quickly and make provisions for the that drug treatment-especially intensive, long-term intervention to occur as soon as possible after arrest treatment-can successfully reduce drug use and (Belenko, 1998). Potential clients are often taken immediately to the treatment agency for assessment criminality, even when treatment is involuntary (Anglin & Hser, 1990; Anglin, Brecht, & Maddahian, and orientation. Prompt identification of drug-in- 1989; Prendergast, Anglin, & Wellisch, 1995). In short, volved offenders and immediate intervention capi- the drug court movement has been shaped by both talize on the crisis of arrest, making it difficult to deny the failure of past efforts to meaningfully reduce their addictions. Furthermore, minimizing the time drug-related crime and the improved knowledge from arrest to disposition is believed to maximize an about the nature of drug addiction and its treatment. offender's motivation for change (Drug Court Programs Office, 1997). Effectiveness of Drug Courts By acknowledging that the system must be involved in drug abuse treatment, drug courts have Despite the rapid expansion of drug courts, their adopted a collaborative rather than the adversarial growing prevalence, and their popularity, there is approach found in traditional courts (Drug Court limited research to support their widespread effec- Programs Office, 1998). Prosecutors and defense counselors work together with judges, treatment tiveness. It is difficult to determine whether drug courts are effective because they differ substantially professionals, and probation officers to provide the best opportunity for the offender's success. In fact, between jurisdictions. Similarly, it is difficult to iden- tify which components or combination of features Belenko (1998) concluded that drug courts are able to are contributing to success or failure. There is some retain clients in treatment longer. Specifically, "it is evidence, however, to suggest that drug courts have estimated that about 60 percent of those who enter been successful at reducing drng use and recidivism
3 ! ; f - 72 CORRECrIONS MANAGEMENT QUARTERLY IF AU plored the differences between graduates and non- Despite the rapid expansion of drug graduates and found several differences. Specifically, courts their growing prevalence and graduates had fewer prior arrests, were more likely to their~opularit there is limited' y,.. have c?mpl~ted high s~hool or obtained a. general education diploma certificate, report full-time emresearch to support the" widespread ployment, report living with their parents, and were effectiveness. less likely to report cocaine as their drug of choice (peters et al., 1999). Although a great deal of the research on drug courts is promising, other studies are providing reaamong program participants. son for pause. For example, a number of courts Evaluations of drug courts are finally beginning to across the county have failed to show evidence of a emerge in the literature base. For example, research reduction in criminal behavior as measured by rearby Goldkamp (1994) on the effect of the first drug rest (Belenko, Fagan, & Dumanovsky, 1994; court to emerge in 1989 in Dade County, Florida, has Deschenes & Greenwood, 1994; Granfield et al., 1998; provided insight into the drug court model. Outcome Harrell, 1998; Johnson & Latessa, 1998; Johnson, findings include lower incarceration rates, longer Sundt, Holsinger, & Latessa, 1998). Although it is diftime to rearrest, and less frequent rearrest among ficult to determine why some programs are failing to participants (Goldkamp, 1994). However, Goldkamp show evidence of effectiveness, the correctional (1994) did find higher failure-to-appear rates among treatment literature provides a strong case that the drug court participants but attributes these rates to quality and content of the treatment programs may the frequency of appearances required by the court. have an effect. It is unlikely that the drug court model Furthermore, an analysis of the Maricopa County will be effective merely by holding status review hear- Drug Court demonstrated reductions in recidivism ings to gauge progress. Reducing criminality and ad- :: and an overall delay in rearrest rates among drug dictions begins with the recognition that drug addic- ~, court participants (Hepburn, Johnston, & Rogers, tion is a chronic relapsing condition that will not be J; 1994). Finally, data from the Escambia County Drug effectively reduced by applying short-term, educa- Court indicate that graduates are significantly less tion-based treatment services. If the drug court likely to be rearrested in comparison to non-gradu- model hopes to achieve behavioral change through ates of the program (Peters& Murrin, 2000; Peters, community-based treatment, the program must use Haas, & Murrin, 1999). empirically validated and theoretically driven treat- In an effort to predict treatment success, research- ment models (Prendergast et al., 1995). i ers explored the relationship between individual characteristics and treatment success. Specifically, Principles of Effective Intervention Schiff and Terry (1997) explored the effect of a treatment-oriented drug court in Broward County, Although the drug court model contains compo- Florida, and found that "higher education levels and nents that will likely result in offender change, drug decreased levels of prior crack cocaine use increase courts and drug court treatment agencies should also :J ~e chances of program graduation" (p. 305). In addi- concentrate efforts on the quality of treatment. "":, l tion, a study of the Denver Drug Court found that offenders with more extensive involvement with Throughout the past few decades, evaluation studies, literature reviews, and statistical summaries of the 1 1' drugs are more likely to be revoked from treatment literature (meta-analyses) have demonstrated that ~1 (Granfield, Eby, & Brewster, 1998). Similarly, one rehabilitation can work for offenders (e.g., see Cullen I 'j study of the Dade County Drug Court reported that & Gendreau, 1999). On average, the best programs :: " defendants who reported high levels of drug use at tend to reduce recidivism rates by 30% (Lipsey, 1992). program entry showed the poorest performance in Indeed, there is evidence that both institutional- and Ii! the program (Goldkamp & Weiland, 1993). Finally, community-based substance abuse treatment can be : reports from the Escambia County Drug Court ex- effective at reducing both future criminal behavior!i '1 i!,
4 Drug Courts and Treatment 73 and substance abuse (Millson, Weekes, & Lightfoot, tion. Each of these points will be discussed in detail. 1995; Vigdal & Stadler, 1992; Wexler,. Falkin, & Lipton, ). Effective classification Fortunately, drug courts recognize this literature and conclude that drug and alcohol offenders can Drug courts should develop a comprehensive strategy designed to classify offenders according to benefit from community-based treatment. However,. risk level. When risk is considered, traditionally atresearch on rehabilitation programs in general find tention shifts to distinguishing security and custody that not all correctional treatment is equal, and the decisions. However, recent research indicates the ability to effectively change offenders' behavior var- risk principle is important for correctional treatment ies depending on the quality of the treatment efforts (Van Voorhis, 1997). Specifically, research (Andrews, Zinger, Bonta, Hoge, Gendreau, & Cullen, concludes that intensive services are more successful 1990b; Gendreau & Ross, 1987; Izzo & Ross, 1990; with higher risk offenders. Moreover, the sameinten- Lipsey, 1990). Research suggests that if certain prin- sive services applied to lower risk offenders are in fact ciples are followed, \he likelihood of reducing recidi - ineffective and in some cases result in increasing ofvism is increased. fender risk (Andrews& Bonta, 1999; Andrews, Bonta, Gendreau (1996b) provides a comprehensive list of & Hoge, 1990). Services, then, according to this first the principles of effective intervention that many re- principle, should be matched to the offenders'likelisearchers agree are factors that all programs must hood of recidivating (Andrews et al., 1990b; Andrews, consider (Andrews& Bonta, 1999; Palmer, 1992; Van Bonta, & Hoge, 1990; Gendreau, 1996a). Drug courts Voorhis, 1997). The principles include, although are not limited to, the notion that treatment services can use this information to place offenders in th~ most appropriate substance abuse program. Moreshould be based on behavioral approaches and use over, assessing clients using standardized, risk/need cognitive strategies, located in the offenders' natural instruments allows for treatment staff to discover environment, multimodal, intensive enough to be ef- other criminogenic needs (e.g., additional areas of fective, encompass rewards for pro-social behavior, clients' lives that contribute to criminality) that must target high-risk and high-criminogenic need indi- be addressed. viduals, and matched with the learning styles and Although many correctional programs do not use abilities of the offender. Although all of these prin- standardized, objective risk/need instruments that ciples are important for the issue of quality, several include an overall risk level, use of these instruments principles are especially relevant to drug courts and in substance abuse treatment is even more infre'- drug court substance abuse programs. quent. Moreover, in their experience assessing substance abuse programs, the authors have discovered Incorporating the Principles into Drug that many of the programs also assume the severity Court Treatment of the client's addiction without measuring the level with a standardized assessment tool. This finding is The principles of effective intervention provide the especially problematic when the need for tailoring context for discovering ways in which drug courts services to specific populations arises. For example, a can become more effective. First, drug courts should study of drug court clients inahio finds that men and incorporate a strategy for classifying clients accord- women present different needs in the area of drug ing to their risk level. Second, drug court treatment abuse. Specifically, Johnson, Shaffer, & Latessa referrals should be based in a behavioral model and (2000) found that women are more likely than men to use cognitive techniques. In addition, drug court report crack cocaine as their primary drug of choice. programs must be sufficiently intensive to affect be- The use of a standardized assessment is essential to havioral change. Third, drug courts need to ensure a tailor treatment services to different populations. continuum of care for their clients that includes af- The assessment and identification of criminogenic tercare services. Finally, drug courts need to empha- factors and client characteristics are important for size the quality of treatment by holding their referrals two reasons: (n to identify factors related to the accountable to the principles of effective interven- individual's specific need for use in his or her treat-
5 II i 74 CORRECTIONS MANAGEMENT QUARTERLy/FALL 2000 ment plan, and (2) factors such as motivation, personality, and intelligence can affect how an individual responds or his or her amenability to treat- Drug court programs should ensure that treatment referrals are using effective ment (VanVoorhis, Cullen, & Applegate, 1995). It is d I k d.. # for these reasons that drug courts and drug and alcomo e s. nown to re uce CrimIna. I hol treatment programs should not only assess cli- behavior, such as those theoretically ents on their level of substance abuse but also on based in behavioral and cognitive their overalllikelihoodofr~ci~vating. These ins.tru- strategies. ments should be both objective and standardized and include both static and dynamic risk factors known to be predictive of future criminal behavior.. in behavioral and cognitive strategies. BehaVIoral change through treatment The intensity of services should vary according to In addition to classifying offenders for drug court risk and should also be sufficiently intensive to be substance abuse programs, the treatment for offend- effective. It is thought that the overall period of treaters should be behavioral and based on cognitive ment should be lengthy given the chronic, relapsing techniques. There are several reasons that drug nature of substance addiction. Research indicates courts should demand substance abuse program-that regardless of the type of treatment, any program ming based on these models. First, numerous studies lasting less than 90 days will likely be ineffective have demonstrated that these types of programs are (Anglin & Hser, 1990). Furthermore, according to effective in reducing recidivism in general (Andrews Gendreau and Goggin (1997),"treatment services et ai., 1990b; Antonowicz & Ross, 1994; Garrett, 1985; should be of at least 100 hours of direct service over a Izzo & Ross, 1990; lipsey, 1990) and are also effective three- to four-month period" (p. 273). Typically, resiwith substance-abusing populations (Irvin, Bowers, dential treatment programs are able to provide the & Dunn, 1997). Second, traditional models used by structured environment necessary to provide the insubstance abuse programs, such as drug and alcohol tensive services (Anglin &. Hser, 1990). It should be education and 12-step models, have not been found noted that intensive treatment programs lasting to be as effective as cognitive-behavioral models more than 1 year, excluding aftercare, might begin to (lightfoot,1999). see diminishing returns (Gendreau& Goggin, 1997). Cognitive theory suggests that offenders tend to display limited problem-solving skills (Ross & Aftercare Fabiano, 1985), have antisocial values and attitudes The drug court treatment plan should include af- Uennings, Kilkenny, & Kohlberg, 1983), and are tercare as a crucial component of community-based known to display thinking errors (Yochelson & treatment. Considering relapse is expected among a Samenow, 1976). Behavior therapy is based on the chronic drug-using population, aftercare services : notion that environment affects learning and behav- can provide the offender with the means to receive ill:' ior.although drug and alcohol abuse may be related further, albeit less-intensive, services. Although af- 'I to other biochemical and psychological factors, of- tercare is often not present in treatment programs, :.. fenders still choose to use the substance. Cognitive- research is supporting its importance in increasing " behavioral therapy for offenders' targets thinking effectiveness. For example, a recent study found that and problem-solving skills through a system of reinforcement, pro-social modeling,. and role-playing (Van Voorhis, Braswell, & Lester, 1997). These techniques have been found to be effective at reducing recidivism and substance abuse (lightfoot, 1999). Drug court programs should ensure that treatment referrals are using effective models known to reduce criminal behavior, such as those theoretically based the effects of substance abuse treatment diminished significantly over a 3-year follow-up period (Martin, Butzin, Saum, & Inciardi, 1999). However, when an aftercare program was added, the long-term results were more promising (Martin et al., 1999). These effects include both reductions in recidivism and absti- nence from substances. Similar studies concluded that participation and completion of aftercare ser-
6 Drug Courts and Treatment 75 vices decreased the likelihood of reincarceration over skilled and trained staff members. Too often proa 3-year period (Knight, Simpson, & Hiller, 1999; grams are unable to articulate the program design or Wexler, Melnick, Lowe, & Peters, 1999). the type of services offered. In this instance, it is ex- Aftercare should also include more than just occa- tremely difficult to isolate the components that led to sional meetings. Research on effective aftercare success or failure (Van Voorhis et al., 1995). Programs models (Altschuler& Armstrong, 1994) indicates that should have a system in place forbothintemalevaluaftercare should begin during the active treatment ations of staff on service delivery as well as external phase and should include frequent contacts and evaluations of program outcome. home visits. In addition, the offender's risks and Evaluations can assist in program planning and needs should be reassessed to determine whether improve effectiveness by indicating to staff members the appropriate services have been provided. More- and stakeholders the outcome of the program. In adover, the intensity and duration should not be fixed dition to indicating whether the program is effective, but dependent on the risk and needs of the offenders. evaluations should also specify the specific compo- As part of this cohtinuum of care, relapse preven- nents that worked and with whom (Van Voorhis et al., tion strategies offer tremendous promise. These 1995). Drug courts could use this information and strategies include teaching participants ways to an- distinguish the effect of the target population, the ticipate and cope with high - risk situations. Programs quality of treatment, and the frequency of judicial that are based on cognitive or social learning strate- involvement on outcome. Given the typical drug gies view relapse as a temporary setback that can be court involves a collaboration of services including overcome through learning alternative responses frequent supervision and community-based treat- (Parks& Marlatt, 1999). The model proposes that ment, evaluation results should be used to increase when a person is taught effective coping responses to the efficacy of the model. high-risk or trigger situations, the probability of subsequent drug and alcohol use and criminal behavior... decreases (Parks& Marlatt, 1999). Without a formal and structured program in place, offenders are likely Drug courts have increased dramatically in the to relapse when placed back into the same environ- past several decades. This article explored the history ment. of drug courts and how they differ from traditional. Treatment quality courts, the effectiveness of the drug court model, and the relevance of the principles of effective treatment. Finally, to be effective, drug courts should monitor The typical drug court model has many promising their treatment referrals and hold them accountable components that can be effective in reducing recidito the principles of effective intervention. This moni- vism. However, the alarming rate at which drug toring should include developing a system to ensure courts are expanding may serve only to decrease the quality of services and service delivery. Many courts court's overall effectiveness. assume that offender treatment programs are based The implementation of this type of therapeutic alon theoretically driven models and that staff mem- temative requires careful planning. It is essential that bers at these programs are trained in the most effec- courts develop detailed selection criteria, use a valid tive methods. However, in an assessment of pro- risk/needs assessment, and choose an effective theograms across the country, Latessa and Holsinger retically driven treatment model. Unfortunately, (1998) found that this is not the case. Drug courts many courts choose a treatment referral with little cannot assume that the local treatment programs are knowledge about the type of services offered by the meeting the principles of effective intervention or are program(s). For the practitioner, the implementation consistently delivering quality treatment and ser- or modification of the drug court should include a vices. detailed definition of the appropriate target popula- In the event that an effective treatment model is tion, the adoption of an effective treatment model, adopted, programs must be aware of the implemen- the development of an aftercare component, and the tation of services and the existence of appropriate development of a quality assurance mechanism that
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