Helms School of Government


Doctor of Philosophy in Criminal Justice (PhD)


Billy Wilson


drug treatment court, COVID-19, therapeutic jurisprudence, medication-assisted treatment


Legal Studies


The purpose of this research study was to investigate how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted drug treatment courts (DTCs) in Pennsylvania. DTCs were created as an alternative to the traditional court system by allowing those convicted of a drug offense to receive treatment. Just as these DTCs were dealing with the opioid crisis, a new obstacle occurred in the form of the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing DTCs to adapt to the quickly evolving and changing mandates and policies implemented by the federal and local governments. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on these essential DTCs was examined using a therapeutic jurisprudence perspective. A quantitative methodology was utilized to compare graduation rates before and during the pandemic. The data for this research were obtained from publicly archivable data on DTCs in Pennsylvania. The study sample comprised 3,782 participants admitted into a Pennsylvania DTC between 2017 and 2021. The study utilized a chi-square test of independence to determine if COVID-19 impacted drug treatment court graduation rates. The chi-square test findings showed statistically significant differences between the DTC graduation rates of the opiate group, but no statistically significant difference for the remaining targeted drugs of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and benzodiazepines. This showed the opiate group had a higher graduation rate during COVID-19 than before the pandemic. Odds testing was completed, and the findings showed that every drug type had higher odds of graduating during the pandemic than before, except for the drug type benzodiazepine.

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