Title page for ETD etd-10072010-154205

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Neal, Roderick Q
Author's Email Address rneal@vt.edu
URN etd-10072010-154205
Title The State of the Drug Court: A Systematic and Critical Analysis of Drug Court Evaluations
Degree PhD
Department Sociology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Shoemaker, Donald J. Committee Chair
Bailey, Carol A. Committee Member
Fuller, Theodore D. Committee Member
Wimberley, Dale W. Committee Member
  • Crime
  • Drug Courts
  • Impacts
  • Outcomes
Date of Defense 2010-05-14
Availability unrestricted

The State of the Drug Court:

A Systematic and Critical Analysis

of Drug Court Evaluations

Roderick Q. Neal


Drug courts have become an important part of adult and juvenile corrections. Since the

establishment of the first adult drug court in 1989, the therapeutic court model has developed, and

can now be considered a significant component in American criminal justice.

The problem is adult drug courts have faced considerable disapproval in the area of

evaluation and documentation. Through the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), the federal

government allots millions of dollars to support drug court programs; there have been attempts to

count and record the activities of these programs with little success, there is little uniform data on

actual drug court success nationwide.

The intent of this dissertation was to systematically and critically analyze drug court

evaluations. My major goal was to demonstrate the need for uniformity in regards to assessing the

impacts on outcomes. I analyzed drug court evaluations and their attempt to identify factors that

contribute to graduation, in-program recidivism/ retention rates, drug treatment relapse and postprogram

recidivism rates. Forty drug court evaluations were used in this examination. Further, I

introduced a model that will aid in examining the impacts on outcome. My studies’ unit of

analysis is the evaluation report. I attempted to explain specific issues, such as how well drug

courts work for different types of offenders. I was also able to generate a well founded policy

recommendation for the evaluation of drug courts based on empirical data and literature.

Conclusions show that Drug Courts do reduce post-program recidivism however there were

certain impacts on graduation and termination rates. I also demonstrated the need for more

methodologically sound and uniform evaluations in order to determine effectiveness.

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