urban institute nonprofit social and economic policy research

The Multi-site Adult Drug Court Evaluation: Executive Summary (Pre-Production)

Shelli B. RossmanJohn RomanJanine M. Zweig, Michael Rempel, Christine Lindquist
Read complete document: PDF

PrintPrint this page
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on Digg Share on Reddit
| Email this pageE-mail
Document date: June 01, 2011
Released online: June 27, 2011


The National Institute of Justice's Multi-site Adult Drug Court Evaluation (MADCE) tested whether drug courts reduce drug use, crime, and associated problems; assessed how drug courts work and for whom; examined how changes in participant attitudes and behaviors explain effectiveness; and determined whether drug courts generate cost savings. The evaluation found that drug courts prevent crime and substance use and work equally well for most participant subgroups. Effects are greatest among participants whose judges who spend time with them, support them, and treat them with respect. Methodology and implications for policy and practice are also discussed.

Read the entire paper in PDF format.


Drug courts emerged spontaneously during the late 1980s and early 1990s in response to burgeoning drug offender arrests and prosecutions that overwhelmed the capacity of numerous courts to expeditiously process such cases. In 2002, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) commissioned the first adult drug court evaluation that would select multiple sites from across the country. In 2003, researchers from the Urban Institute's Justice Policy Center (UI-JPC), RTI International (RTI), and the Center for Court Innovation (CCI) teamed to conduct NIJ's Multi-Site Adult Drug Court Evaluation. The main objectives were as follows:

  • Test whether drug courts reduce drug use, crime, and multiple other problems associated with drug abuse, in comparison with similar offenders not exposed to drug courts.
  • Address how drug courts work and for whom by isolating key individual and program factors that make drug courts more or less effective in achieving their desired outcomes.
  • Explain how offender attitudes and behaviors change when they are exposed to drug courts and how these changes help explain the effectiveness of drug court programs.
  • Examine whether drug courts generate cost savings.

This report provides an overview of the research design and key findings from the impact and cost-benefit evaluations, and identifies implications for policy and practice.

End of excerpt. The entire paper is available in PDF format.

Topics/Tags: | Crime/Justice

Usage and reprints: Most publications may be downloaded free of charge from the web site and may be used and copies made for research, academic, policy or other non-commercial purposes. Proper attribution is required. Posting UI research papers on other websites is permitted subject to prior approval from the Urban Institute—contact publicaffairs@urban.org.

If you are unable to access or print the PDF document please contact us or call the Publications Office at (202) 261-5687.

Disclaimer: The nonpartisan Urban Institute publishes studies, reports, and books on timely topics worthy of public consideration. The views expressed are those of the authors and should not be attributed to the Urban Institute, its trustees, or its funders. Copyright of the written materials contained within the Urban Institute website is owned or controlled by the Urban Institute.

Email this Page