Research / Themes / Shaping policy / Drug court outcomes

Drug and alcohol abusing and dependent delinquents represent a large and greatly underserved population at high risk of negative outcomes and long-term costs for themselves, their families, and communities. Although some 300 juvenile drug courts are now in operation, evaluation of their capacity to reduce offender substance use and criminal activity has lagged. More importantly, the Institute of Medicine and other key policy reports present a bleak picture of the nation’s capacity to meet the treatment needs of substance abusing individuals, especially adolescents, and existing programs have not kept up with major scientific advances. Building on recent research findings on juvenile drug court outcomes as well as the transport of evidence-based practices into community treatment for adolescent offenders, the overall purpose of this study is to develop and test a relatively flexible and low cost strategy for enhancing the outcomes of six juvenile drug courts by integrating components of evidence-based treatments (contingency management and family engagement strategies) into existing substance abuse treatment services. This project is examining youth (e.g., substance use and criminal behavior) and system level (e.g., intervention fidelity, feasibility, retention and completion rates, consumer satisfaction, cost estimates) effects of implementing the intervention protocols in six juvenile drug courts. Project findings will help juvenile drug courts develop more effective interventions for drug-involved youth and their families.

Related faculty

Steven Belenko

Selected publications

Belenko, S. and Logan, TK. (2003) Delivering effective treatment to adolescents: Improving the juvenile drug court model. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, Volume 25, 189-211.

Belenko, S. and Dembo, R. (2003) Treating adolescent substance abuse problems in the juvenile drug court. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 26, 87-110.