This national multi-site outcome and process evaluation involved nine juvenile drug courts from across the Nation.
The evaluation assessed the relative effect of each court, as well as the courts’ combined effectiveness in achieving the goals of reducing recidivism and improving youths’ social functioning. Using the Evidence-Based Correctional Program Checklist - Drug Court (CPC-DC), which was developed by the Center for Criminal Justice Research (CCJR), the evaluation determined that two of the nine courts scored “effective” in the process evaluation; four scored “needs improvement;” and three scored “ineffective.” None of the courts scored in the “highly effective” category. Regarding outcomes, the key study findings raise important questions about the effectiveness of drug courts for juveniles. Clearly, there is a need for further discussion about the underlying theory and actual practice of juvenile drug courts in terms of effectiveness with the target population. Youth who participated in drug court had worse outcomes than youth on traditional probation. This finding persisted after controlling for risk level, time at risk, race, gender, substance of choice, frequency of substance use, previous drug and alcohol treatment, parental substance use, and mental health problems. There was significant variation in treatment outcomes by site, with only two drug courts showing a positive effect on recidivism in initial multivariate models. Self-report follow-up data from both groups indicate a high rate of substance use post-program for both youth who were in a drug court and youth in regular probation; however, the rate of substance use was less for drug-court youth. Youth who were successfully terminated from either drug court or probation had significantly lower odds of a later referral and/or adjudication than those who did not successfully complete those processes. 9 figures, 19 tables, extensive references, and appended data-collection forms, surveys, and statistical models
Date Published: March 1, 2013