Skip to Main ContentAn Honest Chance: Perspectives on Drug Courts

By John S. Goldkamp, Michael D. White, and Jennifer B. Robinson of the Crime and Justice Research Institute

What began in Miami, Florida, when the first treatment drug court was established in summer 1989 is by now recognized as a movement involving potentially more than 600 courts in the United States and elsewhere. The growth of that movement in less than a decade from the first Miami court to a handful of pioneering courts in Oakland (California), Portland (Oregon), Las Vegas (Nevada), Fort Lauderdale (Florida), and Kalamazoo (Michigan), and then to a whole generation of drug court initiatives, represents one of the more rapid and dramatic changes in American criminal justice in recent memory.

Drug court participants undergo long-term treatment and counseling, sanctions, incentives, and frequent court appearances. Successful completion of the treatment program results in dismissal of the charges, reduced or set aside sentences, lesser penalties, or a combination of these. Most importantly, graduating participants gain the necessary tools to rebuild their lives.

This report presents findings from focus group discussions with participants in six American drug courts, designed to elicit participant views on the drug court program and various aspects of their drug court experiences. The focus groups included diverse participants with different racial and ethnic backgrounds, types of drug problems and histories, criminal histories, and status in the drug court program. Participant comments indicated that the drug courts visited were indeed successful and included recommendations to improve the effectiveness of drug court programs. FULL TEXT

BJA Home | Publications and Press Releases

This report was funded under grant number 98–DD–BX–K008 from the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The views expressed are those of the authors and the focus group participants and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Department of Justice or of the participating agencies in the cooperating jurisdictions.