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Juvenile Drug Courts: A Process, Outcome, and Impact Evaluation

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 2015
12 pages
This bulletin presents an overview of the findings and methodology of an evaluation of the processes and key outcomes of nine juvenile drug courts in three regions of the Nation.
Overall, the juvenile drug courts generally did not adhere to evidence-based practices. Consequently, seven of the nine sites experienced higher rates of new delinquency referrals for drug-court youth compared with youth on traditional probation, and six of the nine sites had higher rates of new adjudications for drug-court youth compared with youth on traditional probation. Only one of the nine sties showed evidence of significant reductions for both new referrals and new adjudications. These positive outcomes may be due to the referral agencies providing treatment on the court's behalf that more closely followed evidence-based practices. Many of the juvenile drug courts did not adequately assess their clients for risk, needs, and barriers to treatment success. Eight recommendations are offered for improving juvenile drug courts. They pertain to staff training in evidence-based court procedures and drug treatment methods; the use of standardized risk and needs assessment with every client; the tailoring of case management to assessment findings, including criminogenic needs not directly related to drug abuse; the use of completion standards that are progress-related rather than time-related; the regular collection and analysis of data related to intended outcomes; and evaluations that use a risk-controlled comparison group. Study limitations are noted . 2 tables, 3 figures, and 20 references

Date Published: May 1, 2015