New South Wales drug courts: once a novelty – today, its business as usual

Amanda Clarke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this research is to considers the degree to which drug courts (DCs) in New South Wales (NSW) adhere to the ten key components (TKCs), which were developed by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, as a model practice for implementing DCs. Design/methodology/approach: This study relied upon semi-structured interviews conducted with 21 professionals who work in the DC field from NSW. The sample represented various stakeholders responsible for the delivery of drug court programs (DCPs) in NSW. A qualitative analysis was conducted, this analysis uncovered practices adopted by the DC that go beyond those that were standardised in the closed-ended questions but nevertheless fell within the TKCs. The qualitative analyses added weight to the results determined by the descriptive statistics. Findings: The results confirm that DCs in NSW adhere to the TKCs that describe successful DCPs internationally. In spite of this, several key components accomplished higher adherence rates than others. What can be said is that over 60% of the component’s benchmarks achieved the 80% target determined by the writer. Research limitations/implications: The key components that have lower adherence rates are anticipated and must not be interpreted as undesirable results. DCs are encouraged to modify their programme characteristics to ensure further adherence to the specified benchmarks. To this extent, high regard is given to the practices adopted and identified through the qualitative data analysis. Practical implications: The recommendations made to DCs in NSW are consistent with implementing model DCPs as defined by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals in 1997. Originality/value: The TKCs are fundamentally standards for implementation and open an opportunity for discussion and are open for opportunity and examination. In theory and practice, each DC may interpret and implement the TKCs differently. In this regard, there is value in gaining an appreciation of pw DCs are interpreting the TKCs and applying them. It is business as usual at DCs; however, this research has demonstrated that there is no lack of innovation when it comes to DC in NSW implementing the TKCs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-242
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2022
Externally publishedYes


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