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Promising Program Seal

Drug Court: Baltimore City

Blueprints Program Rating: Promising

A coalition of public, private and non-profit agencies that provide intensive supervision, substance abuse treatment and comprehensive judicial monitoring to offenders whose crimes are non-violent and related to substance abuse to facilitate their integration back into a healthy community.

Program Outcomes

  • Adult Crime
  • Delinquency and Criminal Behavior

Program Type

  • Adult Crime Prevention
  • Drug Court/Teen Court
  • Drug Prevention/Treatment

Program Setting

  • Adult Corrections
  • Mental Health/Treatment Center
  • Transitional Between Contexts

Continuum of Intervention

  • Indicated Prevention (Early Symptoms of Problem)


  • Adult


  • Male and Female


  • All Race/Ethnicity


  • Blueprints: Promising
  • Crime Solutions: Promising

Program Information Contact

Gray Barton, Director
Office of Problem-Solving Courts
Administrative Office of the Courts
2001 E/F Commerce Park Drive
Annapolis, MD 21401
Phone: 410-260-3617

Brief Description of the Program

The Baltimore City Drug Treatment Court is a program for district and circuit court cases that are supervised by the Baltimore City Division of Parole and Probation. District Court cases involve misdemeanor charges, while the Circuit Court deals with felony cases, and these two tracks of entry into Drug Court both occur post-conviction. In other words, clients generally enter the program as a condition of probation. During the evaluation, the Drug Court also received clients on a pre-conviction (diversion) track. In such cases, clients typically enter the program on the condition that their charges would be dropped after successful completion.

To be eligible to participate in the Baltimore Drug Court, individuals must be at least 18 years old, must live in Baltimore City, and must not have any violent offenses (prior or current). Potential clients are informed of the availability of the Drug Court by public defenders. The state's attorney completes record checks to ensure eligibility and meets with the public defender to discuss which individuals would be best served by Drug Court. As a part of this decision making process, individuals complete the Psychopathy Checklist and the Addiction Severity Index, both administered by staff in the Drug Court Assessment Unit. Information regarding drug history, medical history, employment status, and other aspects of the individual's family and social relationships are also collected. Individuals who are recommended for participation, as well as those involved in the decision making process, then appear before the Drug Court judge to discuss the case. The Drug Court judge makes the final decision as to whether or not the individual will be placed in the program.

Program participation involves intensive supervision combined with drug testing, drug treatment, and judicial monitoring over the course of two to three years.

See: Full Description


Significant program effects for those randomized to Drug Court, relative to controls, on:

  • Likelihood of rearrest, in interim (Gottfredson & Exum, 2002; Gottfredson et al., 2003)
  • Number of new arrests and new charges, at 12-year follow-up (Kearley, 2017)

Race/Ethnicity/Gender Details

The majority of participants in Gottfredson and Exum (2002), and subsequent experiments involving the same sample, were Black males. However, the Drug Court is designed for use with both genders and individuals of all ethnic backgrounds.

Risk and Protective Factors

Risk Factors
  • Individual: Favorable attitudes towards drug use, Substance use

Brief Evaluation Methodology

From February 1997 to August 1998, referrals from district court, circuit court, and the Alternative Sentencing Unit were randomly assigned to the Drug Court treatment condition or a control condition which consisted of typical intensive supervision probation. A total of 235 participants were randomized, with data collection taking place at baseline, after one and two years of implementation, at three years (posttest), and at 12-year follow-up. Data included information on demographics, prior offenses, and recidivism as assessed through self-reports and official records of rearrest, reconviction, and reincarceration.


Banks, D., & Gottfredson, D. C. (2003). The effects of drug treatment and supervision on time to rearrest among drug treatment court participants. Journal of Drug Issues, 33, 385-412.

Banks, D., & Gottfredson, D. C. (2004). Participation in drug treatment court and time to rearrest. Justice Quarterly, 21(3), 637-658.

Gottfredson, D. C., & Exum, M. L. (2002). The Baltimore city drug treatment court: One-year results from a randomized study. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 39(3), 337-356.

Gottfredson, D. C., Kearley, B., Najaka, S. S., & Rocha, C. M. (2005). The Baltimore City drug treatment court: 3-year self-report outcome study. Evaluation Review, 29(1), 42-64.

Gottfredson, D. C., Kearley, B., Najaka, S. S., & Rocha, C. M. (2007). How drug treatment courts work: An analysis of mediators. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 44(1), 3-35.

Gottfredson, D. C., Najaka, S. S., & Kearley, B. (2003). Effectiveness of drug treatment courts: Evidence from a randomized trial. Criminology & Public Policy, 2(2), 171-196.

Gottfredson, D. C., Najaka, S. S., Kearley, B., & Rocha, C. M. (2006). Long-term effects of participation in the Baltimore City drug treatment court: Results from an experimental study. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 2, 67-98.