Volume 4 from the National Institute of Justice's Multi–site Adult Drug Court Evaluation (MADCE)
provides findings from the outcome evaluation answering the questions, "do drug courts work", "for
whom do drug courts work," and "what are the mechanisms by which drug courts work", as well as
provides findings from the cost–benefit study. The outcome 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. Implications for practice, policy, and future research are also discussed.
Read the entire report in PDF format.
Key Features of the Impact Evaluation
Beginning in 2003, the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute (UI-JPC), partnered with RTI
International (RTI) and the Center for Court Innovation (CCI), to conduct the Multi-Site Adult
Drug Court Evaluation (MADCE), funded by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). The main
objectives of this project were to evaluate the effect of drug courts compared to other criminal
justice responses for individuals with substance use issues, and to examine the effect of different
drug court practices and key components on participant outcomes. The project was structured in
two phases. During the first phase, the research team undertook a one-year planning process in
which we developed instruments and data collection protocols, as well as conducted a web-based
survey to (1) develop a countrywide picture of adult drug courts and (2) support site selection for
the research to be undertaken in the second phase. The second phase entailed three major
components focused on performing process, impact, and cost-benefit evaluations.
The objectives of the MADCE study are to
- Test the hypotheses that drug court participants achieve better outcomes related to
continued substance use and recidivism than similar offenders not exposed to drug courts.
- Isolate key individual and program factors that influence the outcomes.
- Test effects of variations in implementing the drug court model on participant outcomes.
The MADCE research design is in a strong position to yield unbiased answers that can be
reasonably generalized to drug courts nationwide. As described in earlier Volumes results are based on a sample of 23 adult drug courts and 6 comparison sites from 8
states located throughout the country. Although we did not employ a systematic random sample
of sites, and some regions of the country are under-represented, the study nonetheless represents
the largest and broadest multi-site effort to date, providing a unique opportunity to estimate the
likely average effects of today‚??s adult drug courts.
As previously described, we collected a wealth of offender participation and outcome data,
extending well beyond the restriction of most previous studies to official recidivism impacts
only. The design included a baseline and two follow-up waves of offender surveys at 6- and 18-
months post-enrollment, as well as official crime records at 24 months, which allowed us to
examine whether drug court effects are durable or recede over time. Additionally, the multi-wave
design enabled us to (1) model the relationship between offender program experiences and
attitudes during the first 6 months with outcomes at the 18- and 24-month marks and (2) compare
drug court effects on resource allocations to courts. Chapter 2. Impact Methodology and
Appendix A. Technical Appendix: Analytic Strategy for Producing Unbiased Estimates of Drug
Court Impact detail the methodology we used to produce unbiased estimates of drug court
End of excerpt. The entire report is available in PDF format.