Harford's drug court beneficial, study says

February 06, 2007

Participants in the Harford County juvenile drug court had 36 percent fewer subsequent arrests than nonparticipants, and 59 percent fewer days on probation or parole, according to an independent study commissioned by the state court system.

The study, conducted by NPC Research of Portland, Ore., also found that the average cost to the criminal justice system as measured by rearrests, incarcerations, and probation was 60 percent less for participants in the year following their involvement in drug court.

Drug courts provide treatment and supervision to habitual offenders whose crimes are addiction-related. The program also incorporates vocational, educational, and life skills training.

The study compared a sample of Harford drug court participants who entered the program from 2001-2004 to a sample group of individuals who were eligible but did not participate, state officials said. The two groups were matched on juvenile justice history, age, gender, and race or ethnicity, and examined through administrative databases for up to 24 months from the date of drug court entry.

There are 33 drug courts in Maryland. The Harford program was the focus of the study because it was one of the first to be established, beginning as a pilot program in 2000, according to state officials.

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