Drug courts -- Florida, Harm reduction -- Florida, Therapeutic jurisprudence -- Florida


Currently, the drug court treatment outcome literature provides little guidance about examining clients that fail to complete drug court. Typically, only successful clients are tracked and measured for outcome success characteristics and not much is known about unsuccessful client outcomes. A large portion of individuals who begin drug court do not complete the program. With unsuccessful rates ranging from 34 to 73%, it seems reasonable to examine the outcome of these cases. Ignoring this phenomenon is problematic because various stakeholders remain uninformed about the drug court model’s full effectiveness. The focus on successful clients may fail to fully capture and understand positive residual effects of the drug court program. Questions in this research include: Do unsuccessful drug court clients experience positive program results? Has self-awareness increased about the extent of their substance abuse problem? Are unsuccessful clients more confident in their ability to effect positive change? Is there an increased motivation to change? If non-completers are more aware of the potential for harm, are there reductions in risky behaviors? This study is a qualitative investigation using a phenomenological design. The data source is a convenience sample of unsuccessful drug court clients that participated in a pre-trial intervention or postplea adult drug court program in East Central, Florida. The unit of analysis is the individual, and the total number of participants interviewed is N=30. A grounded theory approach, a harm reduction paradigm from the psychotherapy arena, and a variation of an Intention-to-Treat design from the medical field were used to frame the research. This study found some reductions in both criminality and substance use. Several participants also reported improved familial relations and continued connections to the recovery community. Many participants demonstrated an increased self-awareness of a destructive lifestyle, an increased motivation to change destructive behaviors, and an increased self-efficacy in their ability to make substantive life changes. Incarceration was also found to be a motivator for positive change. Therefore, the inclusion of unsuccessful client outcomes was found to be critical to fully understanding the impact of the therapeutic jurisprudence model. iv I wish to dedicate this dissertation to my family. In memory of my Great Aunt Pat and Uncle Charlie. To my mother, Lou Ray, who considered me her hero for which I never deserved. And to my sister, Toni, whom I truly love. I appreciate their understanding as I embarked on this sometimes onerous endeavor. To a few of my closest friends who were my champions throughout this process. To my dearest friend, Bill Van Poyck, for his continuous support and encouragement. Bill has helped me more than he will ever know. Thank you for acknowledging and understanding this difficult undertaking, and for always believing in me. To my dear friend, Kay McKee, who continually checked on me to make sure I was doing okay. Irrespective of her own life challenges, she put my struggles before her own. Kay has been such a wonderful friend and great supporter over the years. To my long-time, committed friend, JuJu, who shared one of my most stressful weekends working on this project. JuJu puts up with me when few people will. Most of all to my wonderful husband, Nick. He has been by my side through much angst and trepidation. He has helped me greatly with determining the best approach to take in several instances during this arduous endeavor. His unflagging patience, encouragement, and love I can never repay. Throughout my entire academic career, even though much time was taken away from him, he never once complained. He is the person I can always count on, and he often places my welfare ahead of his own. Finally, in memory of our boy, Willie McCool Francis. He brought so much joy into our lives. We know he can never be replaced. My dear friend told me, "we loved him and he loved us and that is a beautiful thing." We will never forget his unconditional and unwavering love for us. v AC


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Graduation Date





Reynolds, K. Michael


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Health and Public Affairs

Degree Program

Public Affairs; Criminal Justice








Release Date


Length of Campus-only Access

5 years

Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Health and Public Affairs, Health and Public Affairs -- Dissertations, Academic