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Research on Drugs and Crime: Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going. Thomas E. Feucht, Ph.D. Acting Assistant Director National Institute of Justice California ACJR Meeting Sacramento, CA, March 17, 2005. Presentation Overview.

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research on drugs and crime where we ve been and where we re going
Research on Drugs and Crime:Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going

Thomas E. Feucht, Ph.D.

Acting Assistant Director

National Institute of Justice

California ACJR Meeting

Sacramento, CA, March 17, 2005

presentation overview
Presentation Overview
  • Overview of NIJ
  • Where we’ve been in D&C research
    • What we think we know
    • What we actually know from research
  • Where we ought to be going – and why
nij overview
NIJ Overview
  • NIJ’s mission: Enhance justice and public safety through research, development, and evaluation
  • NIJ’s research focus: Aid state and local CJ practitioners and policymakers
  • NIJ’s research agenda:
    • Broad, national perspective
    • Established by the NIJ Director
    • guided by the needs of CJ professionals, policymakers, and researchers
office of research and evaluation
Office of Research and Evaluation

Acting Assistant Director

for Research and Evaluation

Thomas Feucht

InternationalResearch Center

Jay Albanese

Deputy Assistant Dir

Ed Zedlewski

Justice Systems

Research Division

Chris Innes

Crime Control and Prevention

Research Division

Bryan Vila



Betty Chemers

Violence and Victimization

Research Division

Angela Moore Parmley

nij research on drug courts
NIJ Research on Drug Courts
  • Active portfolio since mid-1990s
  • More than $5 million invested to date
  • More than 25 different courts
  • Range of topics, issues
  • Investments in research improvement
  • On-going longitudinal drug court evaluation
nij research on drug courts cont d
NIJ Research on Drug Courts, cont’d
  • DC Superior Court Drug Intervention Program evaluation (1997)
  • Clark Cty (NV) and Multnomah Cty (OR) evaluations (2001)
  • Kansas City (MO) and Pensacola (FL) evaluations (2001)
  • Treatment modalities study (2002)
  • Multnomah (OR) cost study (2004)
  • NY State six-court evaluation (OJP, 2003)
drug court research what we know and what we don t know
Drug Court Research:What We Know and What We Don’t Know

ASSERTIONS ( “testable hypotheses”):

H1: Treatment Works

H2: Length of Treatment Matters

H3: The Judge Matters

H4: Sanctions and Incentives Make a Difference

H5: Drug Courts Achieve Results

h 4 sanctions and incentives make a difference
H4: Sanctions and Incentives Make a Difference
  • Evidence:
    • Treatment research has provided evidence
    • Evaluation of NIJ’s “Breaking the Cycle” program provided evidence of the importance of sanctions and incentives
    • DC Superior Court test of “graduated sanctions”
sanctions and incentives what we don t know
Sanctions and Incentives:What We Don’t Know
  • Question of balance
  • Tied to the role of the judge
  • Theoretical model of a drug court
h 5 drug courts achieve results
H5: Drug Courts Achieve Results


  • Reduced drug use
  • Reduced recidivism
  • Cost Effectiveness
reducing recidivism
Reducing Recidivism
  • NIJ national study of 2,020 graduates from 95 drug courts (Urban/Caliber 2003)
    • Indicates 16.4% recidivism one year after graduation
    • 27.5% after two years
  • Compared to what?
reducing recidivism cont d
Reducing Recidivism (cont’d)
  • Randomized Control Trials
    • DC Superior Court
    • Baltimore City
    • Maricopa County
  • Matched samples, other designs
reducing recidivism cont d randomized enrolled vs control group
Reducing Recidivism (cont’d):Randomized: Enrolled vs Control Group
  • Re-arrest at 12 months post-admission
    • 48% vs 66% (Baltimore City)
    • 66% vs 81% at 24 months post-adm (Balt. City)
  • Re-arrest at 12 months post-sentencing
    • 19% vs 27% (DC Superior)
  • Re-arrest at 36 months post-treatment
    • 33% vs 47%
reducing recidivism cont d problems and dilemmas
Reducing Recidivism (cont’d): Problems and Dilemmas
  • Measuring recidivism
    • Arrest vs conviction
    • Drug offense? Technical violation? Other?
    • Cachment of offending?
  • Time frame
    • Starting point: admission, completion, other?
    • Offending during period of treatment?
cost benefit of drug courts
Cost-Benefit of Drug Courts
  • Multnomah County study shows system savings
  • Washington State Institute for Public Policy
  • New York (CCI) study show cost effectiveness
  • NIDA “Measuring and Improving Costs of Tx Programs” (1999)
cost benefit of drug courts cont d multnomah costs and benefits
Cost-Benefit of Drug Courts (cont’d): Multnomah Costs and Benefits
  • Up-front costs: $5927 for DC client vs $7369 for “business-as-usual” offenders
    • Drug court costs $1441 less up front
    • Due largely in jail and probation savings
  • Benefits (later costs avoided)
    • First year: drug court avoids $3597 in later costs
    • 30 months: drug court avoids $5071
  • x 300 clients/yr = $1,521,471 system savings
cost benefit of drug courts problems and dilemmas
Cost-Benefit of Drug Courts: Problems and Dilemmas
  • How to capture marginal costs, savings
  • Savings in other parts of CJ system
  • Savings to victim

“If drug courts were required to undergo the same type of approval process as new medications, they would probably be labeled as ‘experimental’ and might not be approved for specific uses. This is because we do not yet understand their mechanism of action, do not know their contraindications, and do not know their proper dosage…. [But] there is ample scientific support to warrant further research on them and to make them available to desperate clients who have not responded favorably to currently available treatments.”

Marlowe (2003)

recent developments on adam
Recent Developments on ADAM
  • ADAM program terminated at the end of FY 2003 due to NIJ budget constraints
  • 2003 Annual report and data forthcoming
  • Plans underway at BJS for new national felony arrestee drug use monitoring sample
adam concluded
ADAM , concluded
  • Contracting funding, competing objectives (national v. local)
  • How to understand local drug patterns, problems? To what end?
other important research on drugs and crime
Other Important Research on Drugs and Crime
  • Re-entry (including NIJ’s SVORI evaluation)
  • Prescription drugs (Rogers PDDP)
  • Meth labs and public safety
  • Campus Drug Courts (Colo St Univ)

… and where does all this lead us?

principles and lessons thus far
Principles and Lessons Thus Far
  • Test the hypothesis (RCTs)
  • Research is a long-term endeavor
  • Budget limitations are real
  • Value of studying drugs in the CJ context
one other lesson
One Other Lesson
  • Danger of “intervening events:”
    • new drugs (like ecstasy)
    • New Policies (like Prop 36)
ecstasy sellers sheigla murphy inst for sci anal sf ca
Ecstasy Sellers Sheigla Murphy, Inst. For Sci. Anal, SF, CA
  • “Friends selling to friends”
  • Use largely limited to “social situations”
  • 54% of sellers wanted “out”
  • Transition to selling powder cocaine?
california sacpa prop 36
California SACPA (Prop 36)
  • UCLA 2nd year report
  • Tx referrals
    • 44,000 in Year 1, 50,000 in Year 2
    • About ½ for methamphetamine
    • Many entering Tx for first time ever
  • About 70 percent of those referred show up for Tx
    • Of these, about 1/3 completed Tx

okla pseudoeph law 2003
Okla Pseudoeph Law (2003)
  • Pseudoephedrine tables Schedule V
    • Requires photo ID, signature
    • Sold from a “secure” location (behind counter)
  • Monthly lab seizures:
    • 14.5/mo in 2003
    • 5.3/mo since April 2004
1 all crime is local
1. All crime is local.
  • Crime “hotspots”
  • Mapping and GIS
  • Local problem-solving is efficacious.
2 s happens
2. “S____ Happens.”

The rate of change in offending and in the CJS sometimes (often?) outstrips the knowledge-gathering tools we use to study, understand, and respond to crime.

  • Technological innovation
  • Policy changes
  • Offenders, drug markets, cybercrime, etc.
3 researchers need to be antagonistic
3. Researchers need to be antagonistic.
  • Look for commonalities where others see only uniqueness.
  • Recognize the unique where others want to generalize.
recommendation 1 measurement
Recommendation #1:Measurement
  • Improvement and consistency needed in measuring:
    • treatment compliance/attendance/retention
    • Sanctions and incentives
    • recidivism
recommendation 2 research designs
Recommendation #2:Research Designs
  • The value of RCTs: “research-led policy”
  • Alternatives: local problem-solving, action research
  • Liberman on “Research-generating policy”
  • Kleiman on “imperfect rationality”
recommendation 3 tempered expectations
Recommendation #3:Tempered Expectations
  • Addiction is a chronic disease.
  • Understand addiction in a context of personal dysfunction.
  • Relapse requires an array of available responses.
  • System changes will occur.
  • Isolating effects is difficult in a complex environment.
so where are we headed
So… Where are We Headed?
  • CJ program evaluation, but only with rigorous designs
  • “Cost-Benefit/Effectiveness Analysis
  • Examining drug policy
  • Testing/proving the value-added of research, especially for local problem-solving
slide45 Institute of Justicewww.ncjrs.orgNational Criminal Justice Research Service(Publications clearinghouse)

thomas.feucht@usdoj.govThomas E. Feucht

Office of Research and Evaluation