Release Date: December 22, 1998

RFA:  DA-99-008


National Institute on Drug Abuse

Letter of Intent Receipt Date:  March 29, 1999
Application Receipt Date:  April 29, 1999


The purpose of this Request for Applications (RFA) is to stimulate research in
the evolving area of drug courts.  Applications are sought for research to
determine the effectiveness of drug court models, to better understand the
important components of this systematic integration of criminal justice and drug
abuse treatment, and to investigate how drug courts influence drug abuse
treatment access, participation, and outcomes.


The Public Health Service (PHS) is committed to achieving the health promotion
and disease prevention objectives of "Healthy People 2000," a PHS-led national
activity for setting priority areas.  This request for applications, RESEARCH ON
DRUG COURTS, is related to the priority area of alcohol and other drugs. 
Potential applicants may obtain a copy of "Healthy People 2000" (Full Report:
Stock No. 017-001-00474-0 or Summary Report: Stock No. 017-001-00473-1) through
the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington, DC
20402-9325 (Telephone 202-512-1800).


Applications may be submitted by domestic and foreign, for-profit and nonprofit
organizations, such as universities, colleges, hospitals, laboratories, units of
state and local governments, and eligible agencies of the federal government. 
Racial/ethnic minority individuals, women, and persons with disabilities are
encouraged to apply as Principal Investigators. 


This RFA will use the National Institutes of Health (NIH) research project grant
(R01).  Responsibility for the planning and execution of the proposed project
will be solely that of the applicant.  The total project period for an
application submitted in response to this RFA may not exceed five years.  The
anticipated award date is September 1999.

This RFA is a one-time solicitation.  Future unsolicited applications will
compete with all investigator-initiated applications and will be reviewed
according to customary peer review procedures. 


It is anticipated that approximately $1.5 million will be available to support
the research grants under this request for applications.  Because of the nature
and the scope of the research proposed in response to requests for applications
may vary, the size of award will also vary. However, it is anticipated that
approximately four to six new awards will be made under this RFA.



Research has shown that criminal justice sanctions combined with drug treatment
can be effective in decreasing drug use and related crime (Anglin, 1988; Anglin
& Hser, 1989), and a variety of criminal justice models involving treatment for
drug offenders have been implemented.  These include limited diversion programs,
conditional pre-trial release or probation, specialized courts providing
expedited case management or accelerated case processing for drug cases, and
"drug courts," which are courts dedicated to drug offender cases which mandate
and arrange for drug abuse treatment, actively monitor progress in treatment, and
arrange for other services to drug-involved offenders (Belenko, 1998).

Drug courts have proliferated in part due to the Violent Crime Control and Law
Enforcement Act of 1994, which provided for federal support for planning,
implementation, and enhancement of drug courts.  The elements of a drug court are
described in a report by the Drug Courts Program Office (1997) entitled Defining
Drug Courts: The Key Components.  These usually include the following:

o  identification of defendants in need of drug abuse treatment and referral to
community based treatment after arrest;
o  frequent judicial monitoring of treatment progress and compliance;
o  use of graduated sanctions and rewards; and
o  mandatory drug testing.

As described in Belenko's (1998) review of drug court studies, the drug court
differs from earlier criminal justice efforts to link with drug abuse treatment
in the level of integration of judicial supervision into the drug treatment
process.  There appear to be more frequent drug tests and contacts with treatment
and supervision under drug courts compared with other forms of community
supervision.  While drug courts provide an alternative to incarceration for drug
offenders, they also offer the potential for longer-term reductions in drug use
and recidivism to crime through closer monitoring of treatment participation.

Currently, there are almost 400 drug courts representing a wide variety of models
for adult and juvenile offenders.  Nevertheless, few rigorous scientific studies
have been published that examine the operation and outcomes of drug courts. 
Although the existing evaluations suggest generally promising outcomes, drug
court models are still evolving and many aspects have not been well studied. 
Given the growing popularity of this approach to managing drug-involved
offenders, there is a need for research to establish the effectiveness and to
understand the important components of various drug court models.

Drug abuse treatment in general is undergoing change related to managed care and
changes in reimbursement related to welfare reform, and these changes may impact
the type and quality of services available to the courts.  
Objectives and Scope

This Request for Applications is intended to stimulate research on drug court-
mandated drug abuse treatment.  The research that is needed includes drug court
structural factors (identification of the essential elements of the drug court,
testing existing drug court models), drug court process factors (effectiveness
of drug court monitoring, supervision, sanctions and incentives, and status
hearings), and individual factors (identification of offender attributes
predictive of success and failure, needs of subpopulations such as juveniles,
women, or those at high HIV risk).

Further areas of research interest include study of the integration of the drug
court and drug abuse treatment (sharing information between drug court and
treatment professionals; integrating sanctions with treatment; identifying
reasonable goals, expectations, and consequences), and the effectiveness of drug
treatment in the context of the drug court system (appropriateness of treatment
services provided, training and supervision of staff, monitoring treatment
compliance and progress).  Areas of interest include, but are not limited, to the

o  The components of drug courts (e.g., mandatory drug testing, judicial
monitoring of treatment progress and program compliance, graduated sanctions and
rewards, and ancillary support services) and their relative contributions to
treatment engagement, retention, compliance, and outcomes.

o  Treatment interventions and approaches used in drug court-mandated treatment,
including behavioral therapies, pharmacotherapies, and other psychosocial
interventions.  Clinical management strategies and/or treatment approaches to
improve offender motivation and readiness for treatment.  Research on matching
services to the needs of offenders in treatment.

o  Offender qualifications and characteristics to predict success in court-
mandated treatment.  Strategies for successful court-mandated treatment of
special or vulnerable populations, such as juvenile offenders, women with
children, felony drug offenders, those at risk for HIV/AIDS, and those with co-
occurring mental disorders. 

o  Comparison of contrasting drug court models with regard to factors such as
access to drug abuse treatment, organizational linkages to other social services,
use of monitoring, or use of graduated sanctions.  Comparative effectiveness of
drug courts to engage and retain offenders in programmatic and treatment
services.  Comparative effectiveness of pre-sentence and post-sentence drug court

o  Research to compare drug court models with other models, such as community-
based supervision models, especially with regard to treatment access, engagement,
retention, outcomes, cost-effectiveness, and cost-benefits.

o  Research to define attributes and training of the judge, other drug court
professionals, drug abuse treatment providers, and other medical and social
service providers associated with successful outcomes of court-mandated

Investigators are encouraged to use the most rigorous methodology consistent with
the purposes of the research study.  Investigators may propose quantitative or
qualitative approaches, or both, to examine these systems. 

Timely reporting of findings is emphasized with specific attention to the
development of dissemination plans to facilitate access to current findings by
researchers and practitioners.


It is the policy of the NIH that women and members of minority groups and their
sub-populations must be included in all NIH supported biomedical and behavioral
research projects involving human subjects, unless a clear and compelling
rationale and justification are provided that inclusion is inappropriate with
respect to the health of the subjects or the purpose of the research.  This
policy results from the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993 (Section 492B of Public
Law 103-43).

All investigators proposing research involving human subjects should read the
"NIH Guidelines For Inclusion of Women and Minorities as Subjects in Clinical
Research," which was published in the Federal Register of March 28, 1994 (FR 59
14508-14513) and in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts, Volume 23, Number 11,
March 18, 1994.

Investigators also may obtain copies of the policy from the program staff listed
under INQUIRIES.  Program staff may also provide additional relevant information
concerning the policy. 


It is the policy of NIH that children (i.e., individuals under the age of 21)
must be included in all human subjects research, conducted or supported by the
NIH, unless there are scientific and ethical reasons not to include them.  This
policy applies to all initial Type (1) applications submitted for receipt dates
after October 1, 1998.

All investigators proposing research involving human subjects should read the
"NIH Policy and Guidelines on the Inclusion of Children as Participants in
Research Involving Human Subjects" that was published in the NIH Guide for Grants
and Contracts, March 6, 1998, and is available at the following URL address:


Prospective applicants must submit, by March 29, 1998, a letter of intent that
includes a descriptive title of the proposed research; the name, address,
telephone number, and e-mail address of the Principal Investigator; the
identities of the key personnel, consultants, and participating institutions; and
the number and title of the RFA in response to which the application may be
submitted.  Although a letter of intent is not binding and does not enter into
the review of the subsequent application, the information that it contains allows
institute staff to estimate the potential review workload.

The letter of intent is to be sent to:

Director, Office of Extramural Program Review
National Institute on Drug Abuse
6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 3158  MSC 9547
Bethesda, MD  20892-9547
Telephone:  (301) 443-2755
FAX:  (301) 443-0538


Applications are to be submitted on the grant application form PHS 398 (rev.
4/98).  Application kits are available at most institutional offices of sponsored
research and may be obtained from the Division of Extramural Outreach and
Information Resources, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, MSC
7910, Bethesda, MD 20892-7910, telephone: 301-710-0267, email:  The title page and number of this RFA must be typed in Item
2 of the face page of this application.

The RFA label available in the PHS 398-application form must be affixed to the
bottom of the face page of the application.  Failure to use this label could
result in delayed processing of the application such that it may not reach the
review committee in time for review.  In addition, the RFA title and number must
be typed on line 2 of the face page of the application form and the YES box

Submit a signed, typewritten original of the application, including the
Checklist, and three signed copies to: 

6701 ROCKLEDGE DRIVE, ROOM 1040 - MSC-7710
BETHESDA, MD 20892-7710
BETHESDA, MD 20817 (for express/courier service)

At time of submission, two additional copies of the application must be sent to:

Director, Office of Extramural Program Review
National Institute on Drug Abuse
6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 3158, MSC 9547
Bethesda, MD  20892-9547

Applications must be received by April 29, 1999.  If an application is received
after that date, it will be returned to the applicant without review.  The Center
for Scientific Research (CSR) will not accept any application in response to this
RFA that is essentially the same as one currently pending in initial review. 
This does not preclude the submission of substantial revisions of applications
already reviewed, but such applications must include an introduction addressing
previous critiques.


Applications will be reviewed for completeness by CSR and responsiveness by NIDA. 
Incomplete and/or non-responsive applications will be returned to the applicant
without further consideration.  Applications that are complete and responsive
will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit by a peer review group
convened by NIDA in accordance with the standard NIH peer review procedures.  As
part of the initial merit review, all applications will receive a written
critique and undergo a process in which only those applications deemed to have
the highest scientific merit, generally the top half of applications under
review, will be discussed, assigned a priority score, and receive a second level
review by the National Advisory Drug Abuse Council.

Review Criteria

In the written comments, reviewers will be asked to discuss the following aspects
of the application in order to judge the likelihood that the proposed research
will have a substantial impact on the pursuit of these goals.  Each of these
criteria will be addressed and considered in assigning the overall score,
weighting them as appropriate for each application.  Note that the application
does not need to be strong in all categories to be judged likely to have major
scientific impact and this deserve a high priority score.

(1) Significance:  To what extent are the goals and objectives of this
application relevant to the RFA?  Does this study address an important problem? 
If the aims of the application are achieved, how will scientific knowledge be
advanced?  What will be the effect of these studies on the concepts or methods
that drive the field?

(2) Approach:  Are the conceptual framework, design, methods and analyses
adequately developed, well integrated, and appropriate to the aims of the
project?  Does the applicant acknowledge potential problems areas and consider
alternative tactics?

(3) Innovation:  Does the project employ novel concepts, approaches or methods? 
Are the aims original and innovative?  Does the project challenge existing
paradigms or develop new methodologies or technologies?

(4) Investigator:  Is the investigator appropriately trained and well suited to
carry out this work?  Is the work proposed appropriate to the experience level
of the principal investigator and other researchers (if any)?

(5) Environment:  Does the scientific environment in which the work will be done
contribute to the probability of success?  Do the proposed experiments take
advantage of unique features of the scientific environment or employ useful
collaborative arrangements?  Is there evidence of institutional support?

In addition to the above criteria, in accordance with NIH policy, all
applications will also be reviewed with respect to the following:

- The adequacy of plans to include both genders, minorities and their subgroups,
and children as appropriate.  Plans for recruitment and retention of subjects
will also be evaluated.

- The reasonableness of the proposed budget and duration in relation to the
proposed research.

- The adequacy of the proposed protection for humans, animals, or the
environment, to the extent they may be adversely affected by the project proposed
in the application.

- The adequacy of plans to make data available to other investigators in a timely


Letter of Intent Receipt Date:  March 29, 1999
Application Receipt Date:       April 29, 1999
Scientific Review Date:         July/August 1999
Council Meeting Date:           September 1999
Earliest Award Date:            September 1999


Award criteria that will be used to make award decisions include: scientific and
technical merit of the proposal as determined by peer review, availability of
funds, program needs and balance, and adequacy of provisions for the protection
of human subjects.


Inquiries concerning this RFA are encouraged.  The opportunity to clarify issues
or questions from potential applicants is welcomed.

Direct inquiries regarding programmatic issues to:

Peter J. Delany, D.S.W.
Services Research Branch
National Institute on Drug Abuse
6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 4222, MSC 9565
Bethesda, MD  20892-9565
Telephone:  (301) 443-4060
FAX:  (301) 443-6815
Email:  PD32N@NIH.GOV

Direct inquiries regarding fiscal matters to:

Gary Fleming, J.D., M.A.
Grants Management Branch
National Institute on Drug Abuse
6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 3131, MSC 9541
Bethesda, MD  20892-9541
Telephone:  (301) 443-6710
Email:  GF6S@NIH.GOV


This program is described in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance No.
93.279.  Awards are made under authorization of the Public Health Service Act,
Title IV, Part A (Public Law 78-410, as amended by Public Law 99-158, 42 USC 241
and 285) and administered under PHS grants policies and Federal Regulations 42
CFR 52 and 45 CFR Part 74.  This program is not subject to the intergovernmental
review requirements of Executive Order 12372 or Health Systems Agency review. 

The PHS strongly encourages all grant recipients to provide a smoke-free
workplace and promote the non-use of all tobacco products.  In addition, Public
Law 103-227, the Pro-Children Act of 1994, prohibits smoking in certain
facilities (or in some cases, any portion of a facility) in which regular
education, library, day care, health care or early childhood development services
are provided to children.  This is consistent with the PHS mission to protect and
advance the physical and mental health of the American people.


Anglin, M. D. (1988).  The efficacy of civil commitment in treatment narcotic
addiction, in C. G. Leukefeld & F. M. Tims, (eds.). Compulsory treatment of drug
abuse: Research and clinical practice. NIDA Research Monograph 88. Washington,
D.C.: Superintendent of Documents, U. S. Government Printing Office. 

Anglin, M.D. & Hser, Y.-I. (1989).  Legal coercion and drug abuse treatment:
Research findings and policy implications.  In Handbook of Drug Control in the
United States. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Belenko, S. (1998).  Research on drug courts: A critical review, National Drug
Court Institute Review, Vol. I,(1), pp. 1-30.

Drug Courts Program Office (1997).  Defining Drug Courts:  The Key Components. 
Washington, D.C.:  Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

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