Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Department Chair

Robert A DiTomasso, PhD, ABPP

First Advisor

David Festinger, PhD

Second Advisor

Stephanie Felgoise, PhD

Third Advisor

Alexander Skolnick, PhD


There is a need to provide effective treatment for drug-abusing offenders, as evidenced by the explicitly supported relationship between drug use and crime (Anglin & Perrochet, 1998; Tonry & Wilson, 1990; McBride & McCoy, 1993). Drug policy in the United States has viewed drug abuse as a public safety concern or a public health concern (Marlowe, 2002). In 1989, the Miami Drug Court in Dade County, Florida developed a drug court system that is currently used nationwide. The model embodies a very strong behavioral orientation with clear expectations, as well as graduated sanctions and rewards for successive infractions and accomplishments. The use of positive reinforcement is a major component of contingency management (CM). CM is an evidence-based practice that promotes behavior change through systematic reinforcement of desired behaviors with rewards and punishment, or withholding of reinforcement for undesired behaviors (Higgins & Petry, 1999). This survey-based, mixed methods study assessed (1) the frequency of the use of positive reinforcement, currently or in the past, (2) stakeholders’ beliefs about the use of positive reinforcement in their programs, (3) the forms of positive reinforcement currently being used, and (4) the ways in which they implement positive reinforcement into their programs. Thirty-nine drug court coordinators from pre-trial/pre-sentencing drug courts in the United States of America participated in the survey. Of the 39 drug court coordinators who participated in this study, 37 reported that they use positive reinforcement/rewards in their drug court. Incentivizing productive behaviors is a key element that is listed under the NADCP’s adult drug court best practice standards. Incentives and rewards are critical elements of drug courts; these must be included in order to meet the acceptable standards of competencies as set forth by their association (NADCP, 2018).