Toronto Drug Treatment Court project

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ISBN : PS4-42/2-2007

Table of Contents

The Toronto Drug Treatment Court, the first of its kind in Canada, has been in operation since 1998. The Toronto Drug Treatment Court (TDTC) was designed specifically to address the unique needs of non-violent offenders who abused cocaine or opiates. Clients were accepted into the project based on a clinically-assessed addiction to either cocaine or heroin. They were also identified as having been actively involved in criminal activities, such as prostitution, possession and trafficking of heroin or cocaine. The initiative involved a number of government departments and agencies in the fields of criminal justice, addiction, mental health and community-based service agencies.

TDTC clients were required to attend court as stipulated by a judge and addiction treatment was provided through the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). Court and treatment services worked together as a team to supervise clients and provide them with the resources required to successfully complete the treatment program. By providing project participants with treatment instead of punishment, it was hoped that the cycle of repeat offending would be averted and that it would lead to a decrease in substance abuse problems and the costs associated with the prosecution and incarceration of drug-dependent offenders.

Project assessment

Evaluation of the project consisted of a process, outcome and cost-comparison analyses.

The process evaluation focused on several elements including:

The outcome evaluation focused on post-project substance abuse, criminal activity and the physical and psychological health and social stability of TDTC clients compared to a judicial comparison group. The cost analysis examined the direct costs associated with the TDTC project compared to those of traditional judicial adjudication.

The outcome evaluation used a quasi-experimental design involving an experimental group and two comparison groups. Comparisons were also made using sub-groups within the experimental group, both graduates and others. Overall, 593 clients were admitted to the TDTC project and were included in the data analysis.

Key Findings

The process evaluation findings indicated that:

The outcome evaluation findings showed that:

Lessons learned

A number of lessons were learned in the project, including the following:

Conclusion

The reduction in substance abuse and criminal activity among drug dependent offenders of the Toronto Drug Treatment Court can be characterized as promising, given the limitations of the evaluation, such as the small number of graduates, different response rates among groups, and the decrease in program's participation over time.

The evaluation of the TDTC adds to the growing body of research on specialized courts, and in particular, on collaborative justice and community responses to substance abuse by offenders in the criminal justice system.

For more information or to receive a copy of the final evaluation report please contact the National Crime Prevention Centre at 1-800-830-3118.

You can also visit the web site of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health at: www.camh.net.

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