Predictors of Drug Court Program Compliance

 

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Release date: Monday 14 November 2005
 

Drug Court participants who miss appointments, test positive to both opiates and psycho-stimulants or abscond in the first three months of the program are much more likely to re-offend than those who do not, according to a study released today by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics.

The Bureau followed up 217 offenders placed on the Drug Court program to see what factors predicted who succeeded on the program and who did not.

Whereas previous studies of Drug Court program performance have focussed on the characteristics of participants prior to entry on the program, the Bureau focussed its attention whether the behaviour of participants in the first three months after entry onto the program was in any way predictive of compliance with the program in months 4-6.

The overall purpose of the study was to assist the Drug Court in identifying which sorts of participants ought to be provided with additional supervision and support, or removed from the program.

The Bureau found that twenty-three per cent of the cohort committed at least one proven offence during months 4-6 (the follow-up period). More importantly, the study also revealed that:

  • 8.5 per cent of those who had never missed an appointment in the first three months re-offended in months 4-6, compared with 40 per cent of those with one or two missed appointments
  • 34 per cent of those who tested positive to both opiates and psycho-stimulants in the first three months subsequently re-offended in months 4-6, compared with 14 per cent of those who did not test positive to both these drug types.
  • over 35 per cent of those who absconded in the first three months subsequently re-offended in months 4-6, compared with less than one fifth of those who had not absconded.


Commenting on the findings, the Director of the Bureau, Dr Don Weatherburn, said that he hoped they would be of assistance in making the Drug Court program more cost-effective.

Past research has shown the Drug Court to be a more cost-effective way of dealing with drug-related property crime than prison. However the program can be made even more cost-effective if those who show early signs of failure are either given additional support and/or placed under closer scrutiny or removed from the program altogether.

 

Further enquiries: Dr Don Weatherburn 9231-9190 (work) or 0419-494-408 (mobile).