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Evaluation of the Washington, DC, Superior Court Drug Intervention Program, 1994-1998 (ICPSR 2853)

Principal Investigator(s):

Summary:

This study was undertaken to measure the impact of the standard, treatment, and sanction dockets, which comprise the Superior Court Drug Intervention Program (SCDIP), on drug-involved defendants in Washington, DC, while examining defendants' continued drug use and substance abuse, criminal activity, and social and economic functioning. Features common to all three dockets of the SCDIP program included early intervention, frequent drug testing, and judicial involvement in monitoring drug test results, as well as the monitoring of each defendant's progress. Data for this study were collected from four sources for defendants arrested on drug felony charges between September 1, 1994, and January 31, 1996, who had been randomly assigned to one of three drug dockets (sanction, treatment, or standard) as part of the SCDIP program. First, data were collected from the Pretrial Services Agency, which provided monthly updated drug testing records, case records, and various other administrative records for all defendants assigned to any of the three dockets. Second, data regarding prior convictions and sentencing information were collected from computer files maintained by the Washington, DC, Superior Court. Third, arrest data were taken from the Uniform Crime Reporting Program. Lastly, data on self-reported drug use, criminal and personal activities, and opinions about the program were collected from interviews conducted with defendants one year after their sentencing. Variables collected from administrative records included drug test results, eligibility date for the defendant, date the defendant started treatment, number of compliance hearings, prior conviction, arrest, and sentencing information, and program entry date. Survey questions asked of each respondent fell into one of seven categories: (1) Individual characteristics, such as gender, age, and marital status. (2) Current offenses, including whether the respondent was sentenced to probation, prison, jail, or another correctional facility for any offense and the length of sentencing, special conditions or restrictions of that sentence (e.g., electronic monitoring, mandatory drug testing, educational programs, or psychological counseling), whether any of the sentence was reduced by credit, and whether the respondent was released on bail bond or to the custody of another person. (3) Current supervision, specifically, whether the respondent was currently on probation, the number and type of contacts made with probation officers, issues discussed during the meeting, any new offenses or convictions since being on probation, outcome of any hearings, and reasons for returning back to prison, jail, or another correctional facility. (4) Criminal history, such as the number of previous arrests, age at first arrest, sentencing type, whether the respondent was a juvenile, a youthful offender, or an adult when the crime was committed, and whether any time was served for each of the following crimes: drug trafficking, drug possession, driving while intoxicated, weapons violations, robbery, sexual assault/rape, murder, other violent offenses, burglary, larceny/auto theft, fraud, property offenses, public order offenses, and probation/parole violations. (5) Socioeconomic characteristics, such as whether the respondent had a job or business, worked part- or full-time, type of job or business, yearly income, whether the respondent was looking for work, the reasons why the respondent was not looking for work, whether the respondent was living in a house, apartment, trailer, hotel, shelter, or other type of housing, whether the respondent contributed money toward rent or mortgage, number of times moved, if anyone was living with the respondent, the number and ages of any children (including step or adopted), whether child support was being paid by the respondent, who the respondent lived with when growing up, the number of siblings the respondent had, whether any of the respondent's parents spent any time in jail or prison, and whether the respondent was ever physically or sexually abused. (6) Alcohol and drug use and treatment, specifically, the type of drug used (marijuana, crack cocaine, other cocaine, heroin, PCP, and LSD), whether alcohol was consumed, the amount of each that was typically used/consumed, and whether any rehabilitation programs were attended. (7) Other services, programs, and probation conditions, such as whether any services were received for emotional or mental health problems, if any medications were prescribed, and whether the respondent was required to participate in a mental health services program, vocational training program, educational program, or community service program.

Access Notes

  • These data are freely available.

Dataset(s)

Dataset - Download All Files (11.1 MB)
Documentation:
Data:

Study Description

Citation

Harrell, Adele, Shannon Cavanagh, and John Roman. EVALUATION OF THE WASHINGTON, DC, SUPERIOR COURT DRUG INTERVENTION PROGRAM, 1994-1998. ICPSR version. Washington, DC: The Urban Institute/Rockville, MD: The Gallup Organization [producers], 1998. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2000. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR02853.v1

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Funding

This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (94-IJ-CX-K011)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   criminal histories, drug abuse, drug offenders, drug testing, drug treatment, intervention, pretrial procedures, treatment outcomes, treatment programs

Geographic Coverage:   District of Columbia, United States

Time Period:  

  • 1994--1998

Unit of Observation:   Individuals.

Universe:   Defendants arrested on felony drug charges between September 1, 1994, and January 31, 1996, and sentenced prior to June 30, 1997, who had been randomly assigned to one of three drug dockets in the Washington, DC, Superior Court Drug Intervention Program.

Data Types:   administrative records data, and survey data

Data Collection Notes:

The user guide, codebook, and data collection instrument are provided by ICPSR as a Portable Document Format (PDF) file. The PDF file format was developed by Adobe Systems Incorporated and can be accessed using PDF reader software, such as the Adobe Acrobat Reader. Information on how to obtain a copy of the Acrobat Reader is provided through the ICPSR Web site.

Methodology

Study Purpose:   In 1993, the Washington, DC, Superior Court embarked on an experiment, known as the Superior Court Drug Intervention Program (SCDIP), which was based on a comparison of the drug use and criminal activity of drug felony defendants randomly assigned to one of three dockets (standard, treatment, or sanction). The three dockets were established in 1992 for the purpose of expediting the handling of drug cases. This study was undertaken to measure the impact of the standard, treatment, and sanction dockets on drug-involved defendants in Washington, DC, while examining defendants' continued drug use, criminal activity, and social and economic functioning. Features common to all three dockets of the SCDIP program included early intervention, frequent drug testing, and judicial involvement in monitoring drug test results, as well as the monitoring of each defendant's progress. Each docket offered different services as follows: (1) The standard docket continued to handle drug cases in a routine manner, which included twice-weekly drug tests and judicial monitoring of the results. Current computerized drug test information was available at the judge's bench at each hearing. The standard docket judges typically encouraged defendants who tested positive or missed tests to seek treatment but did not provide case management staff to assist them and did not levy sanctions for test failures. (2) The treatment docket provided a comprehensive day treatment program designed to provide the skills, self-esteem, and community resources necessary to help drug-dependent individuals leave the drug-using criminal life. The treatment docket included more frequent drug testing -- daily or three times per week. Penalties were imposed by the treatment staff for nonattendance, tardiness, and behavior problems in treatment, but not for positive drug tests, which were handled by judges. Judicial admonishment and program termination were used to respond to persistent, serious problems. Participants were expected to move through sequential treatment stages, which consisted of an orientation phase and a five-level intensive treatment phase. Progression through the program was contingent upon the participant's progress toward the treatment objectives outlined in the treatment plan, which included academic functioning, participation, and social adjustment. (3) The sanction docket offered eligible defendants (who successfully completed the program) the opportunity for an increased chance of receiving probation rather than incarceration at sentencing. This docket offered drug-involved defendants a program that required twice weekly drug testing, referrals to community-based treatment, and graduated sanctions for drug test failures. Failure to appear and test drug free twice each week resulted in the swift and certain applications of clearly defined penalties at compliance hearings. Penalties increased in severity with each drug test failure. Because the court wanted the consequences of a bad test outcome clearly understood by the defendants and all concerned, the type of penalty was the same for a missed test, tampered sample, or positive test.

Study Design:   Data for this study were collected from four sources for defendants arrested on drug felony charges between September 1, 1994, and January 31, 1996, who had been randomly assigned to one of three drug dockets (sanction, treatment, or standard) as part of the Washington, DC, Superior Court Drug Program. First, data were collected from the Pretrial Services Agency, which provided monthly updated drug testing records, case records, and various other administrative records for all defendants assigned to any of the three dockets. Second, data regarding prior convictions and sentencing information were collected from computer files maintained by the Washington, DC, Superior Court. Third, arrest data were taken from the Uniform Crime Reporting Program. Lastly, data on self-reported drug use, criminal and personal activities, and opinions about the program were collected from interviews conducted with defendants one year after their sentencing. During the interview period (January 1996-January 1998), respondents were identified through court records that were sent to the Gallup Organization on a monthly basis. Researchers gathered information about the location of a respondent from the District of Columbia Court computer system. Prior to attempting to schedule an interview, interviewers sent advance letters to respondents describing the project and explaining its purpose and sponsor. Advance letters returned as undeliverable triggered a trace on the respondent, which led to special locating efforts achieved with help from probation officers. Interviews for cases identified as jail cases were scheduled through the DC court system. The questionnaire that was used closely followed the instrument that the Bureau of Justice Statistics used for the National Survey of Probationers. Specially trained staff working for Gallup conducted interviews in jailhouses, probation offices, or at the homes of defendants for approximately one hour. Gallup project staff and interviewers were blind to the respondents' docket assignments. At the time of each interview, respondents were given a letter explaining the purpose of the survey, and assuring them that their participation was voluntary and that any input would be confidential and anonymous. Each respondent was given 20 dollars at the time of the interview in exchange for their participation.

Data Source:

official records, Uniform Crime Reporting Program data, and personal interviews

Description of Variables:   Variables collected from administrative records included drug test results, eligibility date for the defendant, date the defendant started treatment, number of compliance hearings, prior conviction, arrest, and sentencing information, and program entry date. Survey questions asked of each respondent fell into one of seven categories: (1) Individual characteristics, such as gender, age, and marital status. (2) Current offenses, including whether the respondent was sentenced to probation, prison, jail, or another correctional facility for any offense and the length of sentencing, special conditions or restrictions of that sentence (e.g., electronic monitoring, mandatory drug testing, educational programs, or psychological counseling), whether any of the sentence was reduced by credit, and whether the respondent was released on bail bond or to the custody of another person. (3) Current supervision, specifically, whether the respondent was currently on probation, the number and type of contacts made with probation officers, issues discussed during the meeting, any new offenses or convictions since being on probation, outcome of any hearings, and reasons for returning back to prison, jail, or another correctional facility. (4) Criminal history, such as the number of previous arrests, age at first arrest, sentencing type, whether the respondent was a juvenile, a youthful offender, or an adult when the crime was committed, and whether any time was served for each of the following crimes: drug trafficking, drug possession, driving while intoxicated, weapons violations, robbery, sexual assault/rape, murder, other violent offenses, burglary, larceny/auto theft, fraud, property offenses, public order offenses, and probation/parole violations. (5) Socioeconomic characteristics, such as whether the respondent had a job or business, worked part- or full-time, type of job or business, yearly income, whether the respondent was looking for work, the reasons why the respondent was not looking for work, whether the respondent was living in a house, apartment, trailer, hotel, shelter, or other type of housing, whether the respondent contributed money toward rent or mortgage, number of times moved, if anyone was living with the respondent, the number and ages of any children (including step or adopted), whether child support was being paid by the respondent, who the respondent lived with when growing up, the number of siblings the respondent had, whether any of the respondent's parents spent any time in jail or prison, and whether the respondent was ever physically or sexually abused. (6) Alcohol and drug use and treatment, specifically, the type of drug used (marijuana, crack cocaine, other cocaine, heroin, PCP, and LSD), whether alcohol was consumed, the amount of each that was typically used/consumed, and whether any rehabilitation programs were attended. (7) Other services, programs, and probation conditions, such as whether any services were received for emotional or mental health problems, if any medications were prescribed, and whether the respondent was required to participate in a mental health services program, vocational training program, educational program, or community service program.

Response Rates:   The personal interviews yielded an overall response rate of 61 percent.

Presence of Common Scales:   Several Likert-type scales were used.

Extent of Processing:  ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Standardized missing values.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

Version(s)

Original ICPSR Release:  

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