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Am J Addict. 2013 Jul-Aug;22(4):381-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1521-0391.2013.12045.x.

Assistant District Attorney decision making when referring to drug treatment court.

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Department of Family Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53715, USA.



Contact with the criminal justice system represents a critical point for drug involved offenders to access treatment and prevention services. Treatment and service provision under community supervision are known to be more likely than incarceration to affect positive change in terms of reduced substance use, reduced HIV risk behaviors, and increments in community reintegration. The decision-making process by Assistant District Attorneys (ADAs), frequent primary gate-keepers of jail diversion programming, when referring to diversion programs (as opposed to traditional adjudication) is poorly understood.


To contribute to literature regarding the optimization of jail diversion referral practice, the current study sought to investigate what influences such decisions by Dane County ADAs.


We surveyed 24 ADAs and received 19 completed questionnaires.


ADA decision making was in agreement with existing literature regarding offender factors associated with drug court completion, including social factors, criminal history, and primary substance used. ADA beliefs conflicted with current literature regarding drug treatment facilitating reductions in criminal behavior.


Additional research is needed to further assess the decision-making process by primary diversion program gatekeepers.


Dissemination of relevant findings to prosecutors will facilitate optimization of referral to therapeutic jurisprudence programming and the matching of offenders to services.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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