Crime and Consequences has a guest post written by Steven K. Erickson entitled “The Drug Court Fraud”. Erickson correctly criticizes the methodology used to boost statistics about the efficacy of drug courts. Some of the valid points he makes in his paper are that studies often leave out the initial drop out rate when publishing success statistics, that entry into drug courts is non-random, and that short follow up periods leave us without vitally important long term efficacy rates for these programs.

As I said, these are all valid points, when we are talking about whether or not there is a scientifically proven cause and effect between drug courts and long term sobriety.  But Erickson continues:

Completion rates for many drug court studies range form 25 to 66 percent. Thus, up to 2/3 of the initial participants do not complete treatment. If this is success, I’d hate to see what failure is.

We already know what failure is, Dr. Erickson. It’s currently our only alternative to drug courts in most places: long term expensive incarceration of addicts.

So while you make admittedly valid criticisms of methodology, don’t forget that most of modern medicine is based on epidemiological studies, which as a whole suffer from many of the same flaws. Epidemiology never proves causation. And yet, in some cases it is the only available method of study.

And even if drug courts only keep 10% of controlled substance offenders out of our prison system, they are a massive success. At 33% we ought to be dancing in the streets. You don’t have to read too many stories about Drug Court successes to know they are well worth it.