Skip to main content

A process and site-specific outcome evaluation of Maine’s adult drug treatment court programs (Ferguson et al. 2006)

  • Findings

    See findings section of this profile.

    Evidence Rating

    Low Causal Evidence

Citation

Ferguson, A., McCole, B., & Raio, J. (2006). A process and site-specific outcome evaluation of Maine’s adult drug treatment court programs. Portland, ME: University of Southern Maine. Retrieved from https://www1.maine.gov/dhhs/samhs/osa/pubs/correct/2006/adultdc06.pdf

Highlights

  • The study’s objective was to examine the impact of participation in Maine’s adult drug treatment court programs on recidivism.
  • The authors compared the recidivism rates of drug treatment court program participants in five Maine counties with those of adult offenders adjudicated through the traditional process in those same counties.
  • The study generally found that rearrest rates for adults who were assigned to the drug court were lower than those for adults adjudicated through the traditional process. However, the study did not report any tests of the statistical significance of these differences.
  • The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the authors did not control for existing differences between the study groups. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to Maine’s adult drug court programs; other factors are likely to have contributed.

Intervention Examined

Maine’s Adult Drug Treatment Court Programs

Features of the Intervention

Maine’s adult drug treatment court programs were an alternative to traditional sentencing for people who plead guilty to drug-related offenses. These approximately 12-month-long programs required frequent court appearances, drug testing, and home visits from case managers. The programs used a system of graduated sanctions and rewards in response to behaviors, including drug use, missing appointments, and criminal behavior. Sanctions could include community service, writing assignments, jail time, increased drug testing, and required attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings. The programs also provided substance abuse treatment and ancillary services.

Features of the Study

The authors compared the outcomes of adult drug treatment court participants with the outcomes of adult offenders who went through traditional sentencing procedures.

Study Sites

  • Androscoggin County
  • Cumberland County
  • Penobscot County
  • Washington County
  • York County

Findings

  • The study generally found that rearrest rates for adults who were assigned to the drug court were lower than those for adults adjudicated through the traditional process. However, the study did not report any tests of the statistical significance of these differences.

Considerations for Interpreting the Findings

The authors did not show that, before being adjudicated, the adults assigned to the drug court were similar to those adjudicated through the traditional process. They also did not control for existing differences between the study groups. This means that we cannot determine whether any reported differences in recidivism were caused by the drug court or whether they merely reflected differences in the types of people who were referred to drug court.

Causal Evidence Rating

The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the authors did not control for existing differences between the study groups. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to Maine’s adult drug court programs; other factors are likely to have contributed.

Reviewed by CLEAR

January 2016

Topic Area