Drug Treatment Court of Vancouver (DTCV)

Drug Treatment Court of Vancouver (DTCV) PDF Version (169 KB)

ISBN: 978-0-662-05568-6

Table of contents

The Drug Treatment Court of Vancouver (DTCV) implemented between 2001 and 2005 is based on a model for processing drug addicted offenders that has emerged in the United States and has been adapted to the Canadian context. The drug treatment courts have been linked to the growing “problem-solving approach” courts.

The goal of the court program is to reduce heroin and cocaine use in adults charged with offences motivated by drug addiction. The expected outcomes of the program included:

Persons charged under the Controlled Drugs & Substance Abuse Act are eligible for the drug treatment court program. In exchange for less severe sentences, offenders plead guilty and participate in a supervised drug treatment program which includes individual and group counseling and social activities.

In addition to the program activities, participants regularly report to the DTCV judge to review their progress. The judge provides participants with positive reinforcements for success and increasingly firm legal sanctions for lack of progress. In total, 322 adults participated in the program and the evaluation.

Project Assessment

The project evaluation consisted of process and outcome evaluations and a cost effectiveness analysis. The main goal of the evaluation was to determine if participation in the DTCV reduced charges and convictions related to drug use.

Data was collected from court staff, program staff and participants, court files and program documents prior to the start of the program, at regular intervals during the program and 6 months post program. Statistics on criminal charges, court appearances and convictions, urinalysis of program participants and interviews with staff and participants were collected.

In addition, a matched comparison group was constructed from court files based on 166 drug addicted offenders in custodial settings. The method allowed the evaluators to test the extent to which the program was successful in reducing charges and convictions for those in the program.

Key Findings

The process evaluation findings indicated that:

The outcome evaluation findings showed that:

The cost analysis revealed that:

Lessons Learned


Although many participants maintained patterns of criminal behaviour and substance use after the program, the data suggests that there is a modest but significant decrease in drug use and drug related crimes for those who complete the program. Participants also report that they made important improvements in overall well being as a result of participation in the program.

The evaluation of the Drug Treatment Court of Vancouver provides evidence that specialized treatment programs under court supervision as an alternative to the justice system can be cost effective and reduce crime and drug use but this is dependent on participants' full commitment to, and participation in, the program. Strategies are needed to encourage participants to complete the program for the model to be successful.

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 or visit our website at: www.publicsafety.gc.ca/ncpc.

If you wish to register for the NCPC mailing list to receive information from the Centre please visit the subscription page at: www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/bt/mlng-lst-en.aspx.

Date modified: