Classes conduct study for drug court
March 26, 2012
LaGrange College students and professors in the Political Science Department recently
completed the first stage of an assessment of the Troup County D.U.I./Drug Court.
The study was requested by State Court Judge Jeannette Little ’76, who created
the program in 2004.
“She approached us in the summer of 2008 and asked us to conduct an evaluation
of the court as part of the college’s ongoing community research activities,” said
Dr. Tracy Lightcap, Professor of Political Science. Also taking part in the study
was Dr. John Tures, Associate Professor of Political Science.
After three years of gathering and analyzing data, the group presented its first
report to court officials. The initial stage dealt with the program’s effect on
recidivism, or the tendency to relapse into criminal behavior, among defendants
who were referred to it.
“We looked at defendants processed by the court from its founding in 2004 up until
the end of 2008,” said Dr. Lightcap. “We then compared them to two matched control
groups, one drawn from the study of the impact of Georgia DUI courts by the National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration and another from DUI defendants adjudicated
by the State Court of Troup County from 1999 to 2004, before the court was fully
The program started with 10 participants, but has since processed 318 defendants.
Of that group, 147 are “graduates” who fulfilled all requirement of the court’s
program. Today, the court is helping 41 active participants, and has seen
According to Dr. Lightcap, the study “provides strong evidence that the D.U.I./Drug
Court of Troup County has had a substantial effect on the recidivism rates of defendants
referred to it.”
The next step will be to look at the survey defendants’ attitudes toward the court’s
“We’ll be comparing Troup’s (the court's) numbers to the NHTSA’s samples
(from a study conducted by the National Institute of Justice),” Dr. Lightcap said.
“And in phase three, we will be looking at the differences, if there are any.”
Dr. Tures said the cooperative effort was good for everyone involved.
“The best part of the whole project was getting political science and sociology
students involved, applying what they learned in the Research Methods class to
serve a community client,” he said. “Having the presentation in the courtroom,
with students each taking a part in the question and answers on the findings added
a very real element to what we were doing, analyzing and interpreting the statistical
Sheryl Hicks, Director of Court Services for Troup County, expressed her gratitude
to the students and professors.
“I’ve personally witnessed the positive impact this court has had on participants
with alcohol and substance abuse problems, and felt that the court has reduced
recidivism rates,” she said, “but to have a tangible study conducted by the college
confirm this belief is invaluable. This evaluation will be used to further
promote the mission of the DUI/Drug Court and will be extremely helpful as we apply
for grants to help sustain and enhance the court’s operations for the future.”