Examining the Impact of Prior Criminal Justice History on 2-Year Recidivism Rates: A Comparison of Drug Court Participants and Program Referrals – 2016-04-28

Drug courts seek to break the cycle of substance use and crime by providing a community-based intervention to individuals with criminal justice involvement and substance-related issues. This study examined recidivism over a 2-year follow-up period as well as factors associated with recidivism for a sample of drug court participants (i.e., graduates and terminators) and a non-equivalent comparison group (i.e., individuals referred/assessed for the program who did not enter). In the 2-year follow-up window, fewer drug court graduates had any convictions compared with program terminators and referrals; specifically, fewer drug court graduates had drug trafficking convictions compared with program terminators and referrals. Fewer graduates were arrested and incarcerated in jail and/or prison in the 2-year follow-up; furthermore, graduates had spent less time incarcerated compared with program terminators and referrals. Demographics (i.e., age, race, marital status) and prior criminal justice system involvement were associated with recidivism; however, these factors had differential impacts for the three groups (i.e., graduates, terminators, and referrals). Drug court shows promise as a community-based intervention that helps keep individuals out of the criminal justice system during a 2-year follow-up period.

Lisa M. Shannon, Afton Jackson Jones, Jennifer Newell, Connie Neal
International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, April 28, 2016