Context and change: The evolution of pioneering drug courts in portland and las vegas (1991–1998)

John Goldkamp, Michael White, Jennifer Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Drug courts in the United States are still relatively young, but they have proliferated dramatically since the first innovation in Miami in 1989. Research focusing on drug courts is now beginning to gain momentum, though it still lags considerably behind the growth of the movement itself. This article describes findings from a first “longitudinal” examination of two of the nation’s first and longest operating courts in Portland and Las Vegas, focusing on the dynamic nature of the evolution of the model as adapted in each site. In particular, the research considers the impact of contextual factors – laws, administrative policies, and federal court orders – on the growth of drug court models in each jurisdiction as measured through their screening and enrolling mechanisms over time. The time series analyses suggest that several contextual factors played an important role in shaping these courts and affecting their impact on the target populations and the results they produced. The longitudinal findings illustrate the importance of context in making sense of “normal” evaluation findings and emphasize the dynamic nature of the change process in implementing innovative policy in the criminal courts. Blackwell Publishers Ltd 2001.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-170
Number of pages30
JournalLaw and Policy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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