Study of barriers that hinder collaboration between drug courts and the substance abuse treatment system

The purpose of this project is to analyze barriers to optimal drug court functioning that result from the different objectives and cultures of the drug treatment and criminal justice system. Specifically, the project will: (1) examine previous efforts to integrate the criminal justice and substance abuse treatment systems; (2) conduct interviews with treatment and criminal justice staff and clients of drug courts in five cities; and (3) develop two detailed case studies of drug courts highlighting the phases these programs pass on their way to more productive collaboration. The project should result in the development of journal articles and presentations that should be useful to policy makers and criminal justice and substance abuse treatment professionals. Court-based drug treatment (drug courts) was first established in Miami in 1989 as a response to burgeoning judicial case loads of drug-related crimes. Designed to reduce recidivism by diverting non-violent, drug-abusing defendants into treatment, drug courts now exist in over 100 cities. With drug courts, judges go beyond their traditional role of "referral" and become an integral part of the treatment by holding participants accountable for their behavior and imposing sanctions and/or referrals to more intensive care, based on their performance. Many experts believe drug courts hold great promise because they have the potential to overcome two chief limitations of drug treatment, its inability to attract the most severely dependent and to retain those who are enrolled. Despite their promise, cities often grapple with the implementation of drug courts. The cultures and principal objective of the drug treatment and criminal justice systems are quite different. Major implementation issues can include: (1) disagreement over who is in charge of the patient; (2) treatment of staff's adverse reaction to judicial sanction; and (3) potential withholding of clinical information from the court. To date, no case studies detailing the implementation issues related to drug courts have been conducted, a void the proposed project could fill.

Grant Details

Amount Awarded $54,520.00

Awarded on: 2/14/1997

Time frame: 3/1/1997 - 2/28/1998

Grant Number: 30487


National Association of Drug Court Professionals

1029 North Royal Street, Suite 201
Alexandria, 22314-1542


Sally L. Satel
Project Director