D. Progressive Sanctions In general, sanctions are less effective at low and high magnitudes than in the intermediate range (Marlowe & Kirby, 1999; Marlowe & Wong, 2008). The most effective drug courts develop a wide and creative range of intermediate-magnitude sanctions that can be increased or decreased in response to participants’ behaviors (Marlowe, 2007). Research suggests that different approaches should be taken for easier, as compared to more difficult to accomplish goals. For difficult goals, significantly better outcomes are achieved when the sanctions increase progressively in magnitude over successive infractions (Harrell & Roman, 2001; Harrell et al., 1999; Hawken & Kleiman, 2009; Kilmer et al., 2012; National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2006). Providing gradually escalating sanctions for difficult goals gives treatment a chance to take effect and prepares participants to meet steadily increasing responsibilities in the program. For easier goals, on the other hand, applying higher-magnitude sanctions is more effective, as it prevents participants from getting accustomed to punishment and punishment becoming less effective (Marlowe, 2011).
H. Jail Sanctions The certainty and immediacy of sanctions are far more influential to outcomes than the magnitude or severity of the sanctions (Harrell & Roman, 2001; Marlowe et al., 2005; Nagin & Pogarsky, 2011). Drug courts are significantly more effective and cost-effective when they use jail sanctions sparingly (Carey et al., 2008b; Hepburn & Harvey, 2007). Research in drug courts indicates that jail sanctions produce diminishing returns after approximately three to five days (Carey et al., 2012; Hawken & Kleiman, 2009). A multisite study found that drug courts that had a policy of applying jail sanctions of longer than one week were associated with increased recidivism and negative cost-benefits. Drug courts that relied on jail sanctions of longer than two weeks were two and a half times less effective at reducing crime and 45% less cost-effective than drug courts that tended to impose shorter jail sanctions (Carey et al., 2012).