Back to top

NDCI Drug Court Practitioner Fact Sheet

“Drug Courts improve outcomes for drug-abusing offenders by combining evidence-based substance abuse treatment with strict behavioral accountability. Participants are carefully monitored for substance use and related behaviors and receive escalating incentives for accomplishments and sanctions for infractions. The nearly unanimous perception of both participants and staff members is that the positive effects of Drug Courts are largely attributable to the application of these behavioral contingencies … Scientific research over several decades reveals the most effective ways to administer behavior modification programs. Drug Courts that learn these lessons of science reap benefits several times over through better outcomes and greater cost-effectiveness” (p. 1). This publication describes the following science-based practices (also known as evidence-based practices): the carrot and the stick; trust but verify; timing is everything; staying centered; fishing for tangible resources; do due process; whether sanctions or therapeutic consequences; first things first; and phase advancement. Practice Pointers are also provided for each behavior modification strategy.

Behavior Modification 101 for Drug Courts: Making the Most of Incentives and Sanctions Cover

"The purpose of this document is to provide Drug Court staff with a concise and current overview of important issues relating to offender risk assessment and to provide a list of recommended contemporary risk instruments. Numerous risk scales are currently used in the United States … to assess static risk factors and criminogenic needs (dynamic risk factors that are related to the client’s propensity for criminal behavior), of which substance abuse is but one. Almost all of these are applied to predict risk post-adjudication" (p. 1). This publication focuses on those recommended and promising risk and needs instruments best for drug courts. Sections of this document include: risk assessment-an overview for drug courts; advantages, limits, and usage or risk assessment approaches in contemporary practice; issues for drub courts to consider in selecting risk instruments; selection criteria and overview of risk assessment instruments; best practice guidelines for integrating risk and clinical measures; summary of recommended and promising risk and need assessment instruments; summary of recommended purpose-specific risk assessment instruments; ten principles for using risk assessment; description of recommended risk instruments—Correctional Offender Management Profiling for Alternative Sanctions (COMPAS), Level of Service-Case Management Inventory (LS/CMI), Post Conviction Risk Assessment (PCRA), the Ontario Domestic Assault Risk Assessment (ODARA), and the Violence Risk Appraisal Guide-Revised (VRAG-R); promising risk instruments—Ohio Risk Assessment System (ORAS)—Pretrial Assessment Tool (PAT) and Community Supervision TOOL (CST), and the Risk and Needs Triage (RANT).

Selecting and Using Risk and Need Assessment Cover
Subscribe to NDCI Drug Court Practitioner Fact Sheet