There is strong evidence that intensively supervising drug court participants in the early phases reduces early-phase substance use and sanctioning rates.
This paper assesses whether intensive judicial supervision (IJS) during the early stages of drug court reduces drug use and sanctioning rates.
Method: The study employed a non-blinded randomised controlled trial to test the effect of IJS on early-phase substance use and sanctioning rates. All participants accepted onto the Parramatta Drug Court program between March 2010 and March 2011 were randomly allocated into either an IJS or supervision as usual (SAU) condition. The IJS group had phase 1 of their program extended from three to four months and appeared before the judge two times per week during phase 1. The SAU group appeared once per week for three months during phase 1.
Results: Participants in the IJS group were significantly less likely to return positive urinalysis tests and had a significantly greater number of episodes of abstinence than participants in the SAU group. IJS participants were less likely to accrue sanctions than participants in the SAU group. There was no significant difference in the odds of having sanctions waived or having to serve sanctions in prison between the two groups.
Conclusion: These interim findings provide strong evidence that intensively supervising drug court participants in the early phases reduces early-phase substance use and sanctioning rates.