Baltimore City (Md.) Drug Treatment Court

Program Goals/Key Personnel

The Baltimore City Drug Treatment Court (BCDTC) in Baltimore, Maryland, was created in 1994 in response to a report by the American Bar Association that found that nearly 85 percent of all crimes committed in Baltimore were addiction driven (Bar Association of Baltimore City 1990). The objective of the BCDTC is to identify offenders with substance abuse addiction and offer them a treatment alternative to incarceration. There are four main goals of the BCDTC:


·        Provide pretrial, drug-dependent detainees with close supervision

·        Allow judges to use a cost-effective sentencing option by providing a fully integrated and comprehensive treatment program

·        Reduce recidivism rates of street crime committed by drug-motivated offenders

·        Facilitate the academic, vocational, and prosocial skill development of offenders


The drug treatment court team includes a judge, program coordinator, assistant State’s attorney, assistant public defender, parole and probation agents, and treatment providers from Baltimore.


Target Population/Eligibility

Potential drug court participants are referred to the program from one of two tracks: circuit court felony cases or district court misdemeanor cases. Participants from both courts are supervised by the Baltimore Division of Parole and Probation. An offender must satisfy several requirements to be eligible for participation in BCDTC. Offenders must first admit to substance use and/or show evidence of past substance use charges. They must also reside in Baltimore, be at least 18 years of age, and not have any prior or current convictions for violent offenses.


Eligible offenders meet with the public defender to discuss potential participation. If the public defender and State’s attorney determine the offender is best served by drug treatment court, the offender is sent to the drug court assessment unit. Staff members from this unit administer the Level of Supervision Inventory – Revised (or LSI–R) and Addiction Severity Index (or ASI) to assess the offender’s suitability for the program, and motivation and need for treatment. Once the assessment is complete, the unit staff member decides whether to recommend the offender for the program. If recommended, the offender, State’s attorney, public defender, and probation agent appear before the drug treatment court judge to discuss the case. The judge ultimately renders the final decision of whether an offender will participate in the program.


Program Components

The BCDTC program consists of four main elements: intensive probation supervision, drug testing, drug treatment, and judicial monitoring. While under intensive supervision, offenders must adhere to three face-to-face meetings with their probation officer per month, two home-visits, and verification of employment status. Probation officers also frequently monitor an offender’s criminal record for violations. After a sustained period of compliance, an offender’s level of supervision can be downgraded from “intensive” to “standard high.”


Drug testing is also performed in a series of phases of decreasing intensity. Phase I, which lasts approximately 3 weeks, requires offenders to submit to two urine samples per week. Phase II, which also lasts about 3 months, requires one sample per week. Phase III, lasting about 6 months in length, requires only one sample per month. After that time, drug testing is completed randomly throughout the remaining time an offender is in drug treatment court.


Drug treatment is provided by several providers throughout the city. Each treatment program varies in terms of treatment components. The providers include intensive outpatient centers, methadone maintenance clinics, residential treatment facilities, and a transitional housing complex. In addition to drug treatment, each program offers educational opportunities, job training, life-skills training, and housing assistance. Offenders are assigned to a program that best serves their treatment needs.


Finally, judicial monitoring takes place in the form of frequent status hearings. The judge reviews reports from treatment providers and probation officers at these hearings to determine an offender’s compliance with the program. Failure to comply with program requirements can result in a variety of sanctions, including increased status hearings, increased drug testing, and curfews. The sanctions can graduate to more severe measures such as home detention, temporary incarceration, and community service. If an offender displays extreme noncompliance with the program, the judge can reimpose the original sentence, which can often be more severe than if the sentence had been imposed under traditional adjudication.


To graduate from the program, offenders must be employed, have completed 20 hours of community service, have participated in the program for a minimum of 12 months, and have at least 9 months of clean urine samples.

Intervention ID

18 to 100


Study 1


Gottfredson, Najaka, and Kearley (2003) found that participants in the Baltimore City Drug Treatment Court (BCDTC) in Baltimore, MD, were significantly less likely than the control group to be rearrested. Specifically, 66.2 percent of BCDTC participants were rearrested, compared to 81.3 percent of the control group. The number of new arrests (1.6 versus 2.3) and new charges (3.1 versus 4.6) were also significantly lower for drug court participants than for control group members. Once rearrested, however, drug treatment court participants were as likely as control group members to be reconvicted.


The most common type of offense for which study participants were rearrested was drug offenses, followed by public order and property offenses. BCDTC participants were far less likely to be rearrested for drug offenses compared to the control group (40.6 percent compared to 54.2 percent, respectively).


Study 2

Criminal Activity and Drug Use, Treatment as Assigned

In the intent-to-treat analyses, Gottfredson and colleagues (2005) found that although 49.5 percent of drug court participants self-reported being arrested in the year prior to their follow-up interview versus 57.8 percent of the control group members, the difference was not statistically significant. Drug court participants did have significantly lower scores on the measure of maximum crime seriousness compared to the control group (1.1 versus 1.9, respectively), suggesting the most serious crime committed by members of the control group were significantly more serious than for the treatment group. Drug court participants also committed significantly fewer different types of crime than control group members, as measured by the crime variety scale (0.07 versus 0.11, respectively). When looking at the originating court, however, there was only a significant difference in the measure of crime variety for drug court participants in the circuit court—and not for participants in the district court.


Drug court participants used significantly fewer different types of drugs than control participants, as measured by the drug variety scale (0.14 versus 0.18, respectively), and they scored significantly lower on the alcohol addiction severity scale (1.2 versus 1.4). Again, there were differences in outcomes based on the originating court of participants. Drug court participants had significantly fewer days of cocaine use and lower scores on the drug addiction severity scale compared to control group members, but only for participants from the circuit court.


Criminal Activity and Drug Use, Treatment as Received

There were significant differences between study participants that received treatment and participants who did not receive treatment (regardless of their randomly assigned condition). All of the significant differences found in the intent-to-treat analyses remained significant. Additional significant differences were found in the percent of participants arrested (43 percent of participants who received treatment versus 64.8 percent who did not receive treatment) and in measures of heroin use, drug addiction severity, alcohol use, and cocaine use.



There was no significant difference between drug court participants and control group members in the percentage of participants who were employed at the time of the interviews. The percentage of drug court participants who received money from welfare was 4.3, compared to 10.9 percent of control participants, but this difference was not significant.


Physical and Mental Health

There were no significant differences between drug court participants and control group members on measures of physical and mental health.


Family and Social Relationships

There was also no significant difference between drug court participants and control participants on measures of family and social relationships.

Topics - Placeholder

1 3 4 11 48 49 53 54 59 106 220 238 272