The nationwide drug court movement represents one of the most recent innovations in our criminal justice system aimed at decreasing the number of drug-involved offenders by providing drug treatment and intensive court supervision. Although the majority of drug courts are diversion programs, the Maricopa County (Arizona) Drug Court is a postadjudication program for probationers with a first-time felony conviction for drug possession. Probationers are required to participate in an outpatient comprehensive drug treatment program, and their progress is monitored by the judge. The drug court emphasizes individual accountability through a system of rewards and sanctions. A total of 630 offenders sentenced in 1992 or 1993 were randomly assigned to the drug court or routine probation for RAND's experimental evaluation and tracked for a period of twelve months. Results show that 40 percent of drug court participants successfully completed the program within twelve months. Although there was no statistically significant difference between participants in the drug court program and those on routine probation in terms of new arrests, drug court participants had a lower overall rate of technical violations with fewer drug violations in particular. The Maricopa County Adult Probation Department has continued the drug court program, with slight modifications, and hopes to increase the number of clients served within the next year.
Originally published in: Justice System Journal, v. 18, no. 1, 1995, pp. 55-73.
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