Main Article Content
Research on drug treatment courts (DTCs) consistently conclude that DTCs are effective at reducing recidivism. However, there is variation and contradiction in the literature on what elements of DTCs are key to this success. This is likely partly due to the atheoretical nature of most of the literature on these courts. Utilizing semi-structured qualitative interviews of N=15 active drug court participants of a Midwest DTC, we sought to test the theoretical framework of therapeutic jurisprudence and procedural justice proposed by Kaiser and Holtfreter (2016). Therapeutic jurisprudence suggests ideal interactions with participants and procedural justice is though to be the key to promoting success in DTCs. Participants in our study reported characteristics of therapeutic jurisprudence as key to developing perceptions of procedural justice. Feeling heard and treated compassionately helped shift participants’ identities from “addict” or “criminal” to a “person with an addiction.” Further, participants credited increased trust in the court when they were entrusted with at least part of their own recovery. Finally, some court team members were able to promote perceptions of procedural justice for the whole court. Implications and future directions are discussed in the conclusion.