Drug Courts – There ARE Practice Guidelines

Recently, there has been a flurry of drug court criticism.

This post points out that there is a model for drug courts and that much of what’s been criticized are deviations from the model.

Calling for the end of drug courts or dramatic reductions in their use is a little like calling for the end of an evidence-based manualized treatment on the basis of practitioners who don’t follow the manual.

There are a lot of solutions to a problem like this–accreditation, creating fidelity requirements for funding, etc.

Note that in the 69 pages of the two reports, there is exactly one sentence addressing the fact that drug court guidelines exist:

While the National Association of Drug Court Professionals and others have laid out guidelines for best practices in drug courts, not every court across the country follows these standards, and both eligibility requirements and court processes vary nationally.

Hardly seems like an unbiased analysis, no?

Putting the problem and the reports in this perspective makes it appear that the conclusions of those reports (piously calling for us to follow evidence) were reached before the reports were written.

One more example that there often is not a straight line from evidence to a conclusion. Values and preexisting beliefs play an important role.

UPDATE: The National Association of Drug Court Professionals has now responded to the two reports.

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