The Adult Drug Courts of New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine

An Analysis of Effectiveness and Barriers to Expansion
PRS Briefs
PRS Policy Brief 1213-03
Wednesday, May 1, 2013

In this report, we analyze the effectiveness of drug courts in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine. In order to measure effectiveness, we use four criteria: recidivism rates; cost- effectiveness; impact across race, gender, and age; and social consequences. We find that, for the most part, drug courts promote positive community trends, reduce recidivism rates, and are generally a less expensive alternative to prisons.

We also identify several best practices for drug courts, which include clear criteria for termination, effective use of sanctions and incentives, ongoing judicial interaction, targeted programs for specific demographics, and expeditious referral time. The most significant impediment to the expansion of drug courts into new counties is cost; counties that desire drug courts must individually seek out the necessary resources. Other barriers include a lack of necessary support from community officials, the perception of drug courts as being lax on crime, and political opposition.