Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Social Work

First Advisor

Patrick V Dattalo

Second Advisor

Sanford Schwartz

Third Advisor

David Fauri

Fourth Advisor

James C May


The proliferation of drug courts throughout the world over the last two decades presents an opportunity and a challenge. The drug court approach involves a combination of treatment and judicial supervision which is a diversion from incarceration and/or ‘traditional’ criminal justice supervision. Despite widespread study of drug courts, there is much that researchers still do not know and there is still controversy as to how and why drug courts work. This research study is an examination of secondary data from an urban, mid-Atlantic drug court to attempt to correlate factors that contribute to success (as defined by graduation) in drug court. This study examines drug courts using Life Course Theory, Social Capital Theory and Recovery Capital Theory as a theoretical foundation for understanding the influences of drug courts on participants. Findings from the Discriminant Function Analysis employed in this study demonstrate low to moderate ability to predict drug court graduation and program attrition based on a combination of demographic information and drug court program requirements. Among the factors found to contribute to drug court success were participants having children, their employment status, 30-day abstinence, age, and race. Additional implications for social workers practicing in drug courts are discussed as well as suggestions for future research directions in the study of drug courts.


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