Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Goodman, Doug

Committee Member

Breaux, Dave

Committee Member

Clynch, Edward

Committee Member

Shaffer, Stephen D.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Public Policy and Administration

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Political Science and Public Administration


With the merger of judicial supervision and mandated treatment, drug courts have given rise to therapeutic jurisprudence and attempt to address those issues which have plagued corrections policymakers for several decades. The evaluation literature indicates that drug courts tend to produce lower recidivism rates, increased retention rates and lower costs when compared to traditional programs. However, as drug courts approach their second decade, there is a void in the literature regarding the implementation of drug court programs. This study specifically examined those factors which either facilitate or challenge the implementation of drug court programs. This study examined implementation issues from a bottom-up and top-down perspective. In order to examine these issues, the perceptions of drug court judges and administrators in five states were obtained through the administration of a survey instrument. Examination of the influence of government factors upon the implementation of drug court programs yielded interesting findings. A host of factors appear to influence the implementation of drug court programs, including federal, state and local agencies and actors. Respondents consistently identified state and local actors as being the most supportive and influential of the efforts to create and implement drug courts. Of those, the most common actors were public defenders and the district attorneys. If opposition to drug courts existed, the respondents indicated that local law enforcement or the general public were generally the sources of the opposition. In addition, there is clearly a more positive view of the influence of state and local actors when compared to their federal counterparts. From a policy perspective, the results of this research reveal that innovative programs for criminal offenders can thrive in conservative states. Four states in the sample are southern states with Utah being the only non-southern state, yet one which is typically regarded as conservative in terms of social policy and political values. Despite the conservative character of these states, drug court programs are thriving. Moreover, actors and agencies within these states appear supportive of innovative programming within the criminal justice system which is markedly different from the traditional approaches supported by conservatives.