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Local Drug Court Research: Navigating Performance Measures and Process Evaluations

NCJ Number
Cary Heck Ph.D.
Date Published
June 2006
52 pages
Publication Series
This report promotes quality research at all levels for drug courts by providing a uniform and manageable data collection and evaluation strategy for local programs through the work performed by the National Research Advisory Committee (NRAC).
Process evaluation and performance measurement are two aspects of drug court research that form the foundation for any national claims of drug court efficiency and effectiveness. Basic elements in any systematic process evaluation of drug courts should include: program goals, target population, substance abuse treatment, court processes, units of service, team member cooperation, and community support. In the area of performance measurement, it is incumbent on drug courts to document program performance in a manner that can be compiled and compared. This can be accomplished in the calculation, on a regular basis, of the variables of retention, sobriety, and recidivism data. As drug court programs continue to grow and expand around the country, it is imperative that their good work be documented and reported in a meaningful and uniform manner. Even though drug court programs continue to become a part of the American jurisprudence landscape, there continues to be an overall lack of documentation of the significant numbers of clients served, the services that these clients receive, and the impact that these services are having on client sobriety and recidivism. The intent of this report is to assist in raising the bar of research in the drug court field to a level unparalleled in criminal justice. In 2004, the National Drug Court Institute assembled a group of leading scholars and researchers known as the National Research Advisory Committee (NRAC) to create and develop a uniform research plan for drug court data collection and analysis. Appendixes A-C and references

Date Published: June 1, 2006