Mixed-Methods Research in Criminal Courts: Judicial Interactions With Drug Court Clients

Abstract

Drug court combines treatment and court procedures to help drug addicts reduce the harmful effects of drug addiction. In drug court, judges use a series of graduated sanctions and rewards to force compliance with drug court rules. This mixed-methods study examined what, if any, impact judicial orientation had on client success in drug court. Judicial orientation was operationalized as specific policies and procedures used by the drug court and implemented through judicial orders issued from the bench. Data collected included initial drug court scouting reports, drug court site diagrams, observations of courtroom behavior, interviews with key informants (drug court judges and team members), and outcome data (retention and graduation rates). These data were examined to provide a better understanding of how drug court judges are able to affect client success. The findings from this research have the potential to inform public policy, train drug court team members, and suggest further research.

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