Treating high-risk offenders in the community: the potential of drug courts

Int J Offender Ther Comp Criminol. 2015 May;59(5):449-65. doi: 10.1177/0306624X13515635. Epub 2013 Dec 20.


The drug court model, which integrates drug treatment with community supervision and uses the authority of the court to facilitate compliance and behavioral change, provides an innovative alternative to processing as usual. While drug courts have enjoyed considerable empirical support, research suggests that they could increase their effectiveness through further refining their target population. In particular, it is hypothesized that drug courts are particularly well suited to treat drug offenders who have a high risk for recidivism. The purpose of the current study is to compare recidivism rates of high-risk drug court participants and high-risk probationers. Using new charges as a measure of recidivism, the results indicate drug court participants had significantly better outcomes than probationers. Implications for policy and practice are discussed.

Keywords: LSI-R; community-based treatment; drug court; high risk; recidivism; substance abuse.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Drug Users / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Idaho
  • Male
  • Recurrence
  • Substance-Related Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Young Adult