Improving Drug Courts - A Preliminary Study




Since the early 1980s, specialized problem-solving courts known as drug courts emerged in the United States as a response to the backlog of drug and alcohol-related cases plaguing the U.S. criminal justice system. In a few decades, with the seeming success of the drug court in helping AOD defendants achieve sobriety while reducing recidivism, the drug court model has achieved international prominence as well. This paper discusses a pilot study which seeks to analyze the feasibility of connecting a website,, developed at the host institution of the co-authors, to the everyday operations of local drug courts. Talcott Parsons’ AGIL schema is utilized as a conceptual template for organizing our thinking about how the website could improve services to administrators and clients according to the unique functional elements of the drug court.


drug courts, functionalism, Talcott Parsons, compassion, coercion, AGIL, criminal justice system, psy-complex,


Download data is not yet available.


  1. Abbasi, Mahmoud, Reza Majdzadeh, Alireza Zali et al. 2018. “The Evolution of Public Health Ethics Frameworks: Systematic Review of Moral Values and Norms in Public Health Policy.” Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 21 (3):387-402.

  2. Castellano, Ursula. 2009. “Beyond the Courtroom Workgroup: Caseworkers as the New Satellite of Social Control.” Law & Policy 31 (4):429-462.

  3. Chriss, James J. 1999. “Introduction.” Pp. 1-29 in Counseling and the Therapeutic State, edited by J.J. Chriss. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.

  4. Chriss, James J. 2002. “The Drug Court Movement: An Analysis of Tacit Assumptions.” Pp. 189-213 in Drug Courts in Theory and in Practice, edited by J.L. Nolan, Jr. Hawthorne, NY: Aldine de Gruyter.

  5. Chriss, James J. 2007. “The Functions of the Social Bond.” Sociological Quarterly 48:689-712.

  6. Chriss, James J. 2013. Beyond Community Policing: From Early American Beginnings to the 21st Century. Boulder, CO: Paradigm.

  7. Chriss, James J. 2022. Social Control: An Introduction, 3rd ed. Cambridge, UK: Polity.

  8. Crunkilton, Dhira D. 2009. “Staff and Client Perspectives on the Journey Mapping Online Evaluation Tool in a Drug Court Program.” Evaluation and Program Planning 32:119-128.

  9. Collins, Jeffrey R. 2020. In the Shadow of Leviathan: John Locke and the Politics of Conscience. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

  10. Contrino, Kathleen M. 2015. Judicial Orientation: The Black Box of Drug Court. El Paso, TX: LFB Scholarly Publishing.

  11. Durkheim, Emile. 1984 [1893]. The Division of Labor in Society, translated by W.D. Halls. New York: Free Press.

  12. Dyzenhaus, David. 2021. “The Inevitable Social Contract.” Res Publica 27:187-202.

  13. Fox, Renee C., Victor M. Lidz, and Harold J. Bershady. 2005. “Introduction.” Pp. 1-27 in After Parsons: A Theory of Social Action for the Twenty-First Century. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

  14. Hart, H.L.A. 1997. The Concept of Law, 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  15. Hiller, Matthew, Steven Belenko, Faye Taxman, Douglas Young, Matthew Perdoni, and Christine Saum. 2010. “Measuring Drug Court Structure and Operations: Key Components and Beyond.” Criminal Justice and Behavior 37 (9):933-950.

  16. Hiriyanna, Sachin, Miyuki F. Tedor, Patricia A. Stoddard-Dare, and Wenbing Zhao. 2018. “Design and Development of a Web Application for Matching Drug Addiction Treatment Services with Substance Users.” Applied System Innovation 1 (4). doi:10.3390/asi1040047.

  17. Hoffman, Morris B. 2002. “The Denver Drug Court and Its Unintended Consequences.” Pp. 67-87 in Drug Courts in Theory and Practice, edited by J.L. Nolan, Jr. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.

  18. Hora, Peggy F., William G. Schma, and John T.A. Rosenthal. 1999. “Therapeutic Jurisprudence and the Drug Court Movement: Revolutionizing the Criminal Justice System’s Response to Drug Abuse and Crime in America.” Notre Dame Law Review 74 (2):439-537.

  19. Ingleby, David. 1985. “Professionals as Socializers: The ‘Psy-Complex.’” Research in Law, Deviance and Social Control 7:79-109.

  20. Johnson, Kimberly et al. 2016. “A Pilot Test of a Mobile App for Drug Court Participants.” Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment 10 (Jan. – Dec. 2016).

  21. Jones, Craig G.A., Richard I. Kemp, and Jennifer S.K. Chan. 2013. “The Relationship between Delay Discounting, Judicial Supervision, and Substance Use among Adult Drug Court Clients.” Psychology, Public Policy, and Law 19 (4):454-465.

  22. Karstedt, Susanne. 2002. “Emotions and Criminal Justice.” Theoretical Criminology 6 (3):299-317.

  23. Long, Gregory F. 1996. “Denver Drug Court: New Approaches to Old Problems.” Colorado Lawyer 25 (4):29-32.

  24. McPherson, Chad Michael and Michael Sauder. 2013. “Logics in Action: Managing Institutional Complexity in a Drug Court.” Administrative Science Quarterly 58 (2):165-196.

  25. Messer, Sarah, Ryan Patten, and Kimberlee Candela. 2016. “Drug Courts and the Facilitation of Turning Points: An Expansion of Life Course Theory.” Contemporary Drug Problems 43 (1):6-24.

  26. Nolan, James L., Jr. 1998. The Therapeutic State: Justifying Government at Century’s End. New York: New York University Press.

  27. Nolan, James L., Jr. 2002. “Separated by an Uncommon Law: Drug Courts in Great Britain and America.” Pp. 89-112 in Drug Courts in Theory and Practice, edited by J.L. Nolan, Jr. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.

  28. Nolan, James L., Jr. 2009. Legal Accents, Legal Borrowing: The International Problem-Solving Court Movement. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

  29. Nolan, James L., Jr. 2010. “Freedom, Social Control, and the Problem-Solving Court Movement.” Pp. 65-89 in Social Control: Informal, Legal, and Medical, edited by J.J. Chriss. Bingley, UK: Emerald.

  30. Oliverio, Annamarie and Pat Lauderdale. 1996. “Therapeutic States and Attention Deficits: Differential Cross-National Diagnostics and Treatments.” International Journal of Politics, Culture and Society 10 (2):355-373.

  31. Palinkas, Lawrence A. et al. 2015. “Purposeful Sampling for Qualitative Data Analysis and Collection in Mixed Method Implementation Research.” Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research 42 (5):533-544.

  32. Parsons, Talcott. 1951. The Social System. New York: Free Press.

  33. Parsons, Talcott. 1959. “General Theory in Sociology.” Pp. 3-38 in Sociology Today: Problems and Prospects, edited by R.K. Merton, L. Broom, and L.S. Cottrell, Jr. New York: Harper Torchbooks.

  34. Parsons, Talcott. 1960. Structure and Process in Modern Societies. New York: Free Press.

  35. Parsons, Talcott. 1968. Structure of Social Action, 2nd ed. New York: Free Press.

  36. Parsons, Talcott. 1969. Politics and Social Structure. New York: Free Press.

  37. Parsons, Talcott and Gerald M. Platt. 1973. The American University. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

  38. Schram, Sanford. 2000. “In the Clinic: The Medicalization of Welfare.” Social Text 18 (1):81-107.

  39. Snoek, J. Diedrick. 1966. “Role Strain in Diversified Role Sets.” American Journal of Sociology 71 (4):363-372.

  40. Stummvoll, Günter. 2022. “Double Deviance: The Case of Drug Offenders.” Pp. 111-120 in Routledge International Handbook of Talcott Parsons Studies, edited by A.J. Treviño and H. Staubmann. London: Routledge.

  41. Sumner, William Graham. 1906. Folkways. Boston: Ginn and Co.

  42. Vile, M.J.C. 1998. Constitutionalism and the Separation of Powers, 2nd ed. Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund.

  43. Wexler, David B. and Bruce J. Winick (eds.) 1996. Law in a Therapeutic Key: Developments in Therapeutic Jurisprudence. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press.

  44. Zakimi, Naomi, Alissa Greer, and Amanda Butler. 2022. “Too Many Hats? The Role of Police Officers in Drug Enforcement and the Community.” Policing 16 (4):615-629.




How to Cite

Chriss, J. and Tedor, M. (2023) “Improving Drug Courts - A Preliminary Study”, Academicus International Scientific Journal. Vlora, Albania, 14(28), pp. 89–109. doi: 10.7336/academicus.2023.28.05.