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Public Policy and Administration


Anthony Fleming


Drug courts are programs for people who experience substance abuse disorders and have been accused of a crime and are perceived as being likely to reoffend. The purpose is to provide a therapeutic approach with reducing the risk of future offense by supporting treatment for the defendant. Drug courts are cost-effective for state and local governments and are often funded through a combination of state appropriations and federal grants. Little is known how political ideology may influence the state and local budget process that support drug courts. Using Shafritz’s power and politics theory as the foundation, the purpose of this study was to understand the extent political ideology influences support for drug courts by voters and judges in a single judicial district in a Midwestern State. Survey data was first collected from 106 registered voters, with 67 usable responses, and data were analyzed using logistic regression analysis. The registered voter results were statistically significant with 71.6% (p=.002) respondents supporting treatment, which increased to 85.4% (p=.001) when knowing there was judicial oversight for drug court. Through descriptive research, 45 judges participated with findings indicating support for drug courts and no outside influences which impact decision making. The positive social change implication stemming from this study include recommendations to state policy makers to provide information and education about drug courts. Following this recommendation may result in support for increased budgetary spending to sustain drug courts. This, in turn, allows drug courts to continue, where offenders can receive substance abuse treatment which may result in fewer drug addicted crimes and benefiting the community and society.

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