Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $761,231)
The purpose of this study is to conduct a comprehensive multi-site examination of veterans treatment courts (VTCs) through an implementation and intermediate impact evaluation. Extensive research indicates that a distinct constellation of issues and needs are related to military service and/or training and that veterans may have higher prevalence of specific challenges shown to be related to illegal and/or hostile behavior, potentially increasing their risk for contact with the criminal justice system. Of all the publicly funded responses to the intertwined problems of crime, mental illness, trauma, and substance abuse among veterans, the most recent programmatic innovation has been the rapid rise and diffusion of the VTC.
Scholars have acknowledged that VTCs have not yet been well-researched with commentaries and notes forming the bulk of work in this area. Early empirical research has only begun to emerge, and their scope is limited. Despite the lack of research and evidence-based policy and practice, VTCs are currently operating in the majority of states in the U.S. and are continuing to propagate. This study will inform policy, programs, and research on VTCs and other specialized courts by assessing implementation and intermediate impact related to five main research questions and should be of interest to scholars, practitioners, and policymakers. Partnerships exist between the co-PIs and research affiliates at the multiple VTC sites.
Both quantitative and qualitative data will be collected from baseline and follow-up interviews, self-report survey data, observations, and official records from the VTC programs. Research design and mixed methods will include, but are not limited to, descriptives, content analysis, and relationship (correlation) analysis to assess influences on program fidelity. Analyses of intermediate impact will include, but not be limited to, comparative descriptive, outcome, longitudinal, matching, and regression analyses. This component will utilize veteran- and program-specific data collected through interviews, observations, and official records, as well as the specific results from the implementation evaluation to assess influences on outcomes such as program graduation, drug and alcohol abstinence, and recidivism (new arrests while in the program and post-graduation or termination).
The proposed 3-year project would begin in January of 2016 and finish in December of 2018. Project deliverables will include data sets, code books, reports, peer-reviewed articles (academic and practitioner), practitioner oriented and scholarly presentations, and webinars. A detailed timeline dictates deadlines for all work products and data collection, cleaning, and analysis.
Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law.
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