The NSW Drug Court: A Re-evaluation of Its Effectiveness
Since its establishment in 1999, the NSW Drug Court has undergone significant change. Amongst other things, sanctions for non-compliance with program conditions have been made more flexible, participants are now given formal warnings if they fail to progress, police have a greater role in screening for eligibility and the threshold for program termination has been reduced. This report details the results of a study designed to compare reconviction rates amongst participants in the Drug Court program with reconviction rates amongst a (statistically matched) comparison group deemed eligible for the Drug Court Program but excluded either because they reside out of area or because they had been convicted of a violent offence. The results of the study confirm earlier research in showing that, controlling for other factors, participants in the NSW Drug Court were less likely to be reconvicted than offenders given conventional sanctions (mostly imprisonment). Compared with those in the Comparison Group, Drug Court participants in the present study were 17 per cent less likely to be reconvicted for any offence, 30 per cent less likely to be reconvicted for a violent offence and 38 per cent less likely to be reconvicted for a drug offence at any point during the follow-up period.
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