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Community-Panel Drug Courts in Woodbury County, Iowa

By: Published: 2014 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 1
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Modern American drug courts began in 1989. Beginning in Miami, Florida, drug courts spread quickly throughout local communities as a rehabilitative alternative to incarceration for nonviolent, drug- and alcohol-related offenses. Drug courts' theoretical foundation remained consistent as each program responded to their community's intoxicant-related offenses and existing organizational structures. Leaders in Woodbury County, Iowa, faced the same challenges when they decided to create its program. These same constraints forced leaders to create the world's first drug court program whereby community volunteers, rather than judges, oversaw the offender throughout his or her drug court sentence. No research protocol was established by Woodbury County until I started it in 2004 and continued for the next 4 years. Mixed-methods research approaches were used to evaluate the program within the confines of five theories that underpin drug courts. This case study outlines the project, its ethical situation, and a cost–benefit summary. The research project showed that the project has been successful and resulted in changes within Iowa's drug court policies.

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