Start Submission Become a Reviewer

Reading: Drug Treatment Courts and Their Progeny: Overcoming Their Winding Trajectory to Make the Con...


A- A+
Alt. Display

Professional Articles

Drug Treatment Courts and Their Progeny: Overcoming Their Winding Trajectory to Make the Concept work for the Long Term


Caroline S. Cooper

independent justice system researcher, US
About Caroline
CAROLINE S. COOPER Caroline Cooper is a private consultant working in the field of national and international justice system reform. For many years she served as the Director of the Justice Programs Office of the School of Public Affairs at American University in Washington D.C. and as a Research Faculty member of the School of Public Affairs. She has been involved with the provision of technical assistance, evaluation, and training services to courts, other adjudication system agencies and other organizations engaged in a wide range of judicial improvement efforts. She has also been a practicing attorney, an assistant public defender, and has written numerous publications addressing a variety of judicial system issues relating to the management of criminal, civil, juvenile and family matters. Her most recent publications and presentations have addressed topics relating to drug courts, Veterans Treatment Courts and related problem solving court initiatives; development of partnerships between the justice and public health systems, both in the U.S. and abroad; civil and criminal differentiated case management and triaging of the criminal and civil caseloads; indigent defense services; and justice system COOP (Continuity of Operations) planning, and include: the multi volume reports of the 1997 and 2000 National Drug Court Surveys; Compilation of Drug Court-Related Case Law annual updates; Drug Case Management and Treatment Intervention Strategies in the State and Local Courts; BJA Differentiated Case Management Program Brief; and Guidebook for Implementing a Differentiated Case Management System and Establishing Drug Treatment Courts: Strategies, Experiences and Preliminary Outcomes (international experience), prepared for the OAS-EU Conference of Mayors, Lugo, Spain (2010). Ms. Cooper has also worked with a number of foreign governments to institute judicial improvement programs, including the Supreme Court of Ireland, the Public Defender of Israel, the Buenos Aires Magistrates Council, and the National Public Defender of Chile. Until May 2016, she was the Director of the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) Drug Court Clearinghouse/Technical Assistance Project and served as Associate Director of the BJA Criminal Courts Technical Assistance Project, both operating at American University. Among the many recognitions Ms. Cooper has received, she was selected as a recipient of the 2015 National Center for State Courts Distinguished Service Award, and, previously, the Stanley Goldstein Hall of Fame Award from the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, and has received special recognition from the state drug court associations in Michigan and New York and the Supreme Court of Montana for her contributions to fostering the development of drug court programs in those states and beyond. She is a graduate of Smith College, Howard University (M.A.) and the Washington College of Law at American University Address: 4918 Cumberland Avenue, Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815. Telephone: Office: 301/654-1244; cell: 240/305-7004. Email:
X close


Drug Treatment Courts and Their Progeny: Overcoming Their Winding Trajectory to Make the Concept work for the Long Term Author: Caroline S. Cooper Abstract The introduction of the drug court model in 1989 jumpstarted a revolution in terms of the criminal justice system’s approach for dealing with drug involved defendants. Many lessons have come out of this experience, including the recognition of the complexity of factors that often lead to drug use, the complexity of services needed to address it, both in the short and longer term, that therapeutic approaches and quality treatment services are far more effective in treating drug addiction than in incarceration and associated punitive mechanisms, and that to keep these programs effectively running, significant judicial oversight is needed to keep their many “moving parts” in sync. The author provides a summary overview of the evolution of the drug court model in the U.S. along with some of the challenges that have surfaced based on the technical assistance and training she provided to hundreds of drug court programs. Although more refined data is clearly needed, anecdotally it is reported that over 5,000 judges have served as drug court judges, many of whom report the significant value and insights the drug court experience provided for their judicial perspectives and skills as they dealt with their general caseload, not simply the drug court. With over a quarter of a century of experience in implementing the drug court model, the time is ripe to reexamine in greater depth the drug court experience and current issues that have emerged, and to develop a more structured and systematic approach for sustaining the drug court model over the long term. Key words: drug court, drug treatment court, therapeutic jurisprudence, procedural justice, addiction
How to Cite: Cooper, C.S., 2017. Drug Treatment Courts and Their Progeny: Overcoming Their Winding Trajectory to Make the Concept work for the Long Term. International Journal for Court Administration, 8(3), pp.1–9. DOI:
Published on 04 Jul 2017.


  • PDF (EN)

    comments powered by Disqus