The data presented in this report can assist the juvenile justice field in understanding the characteristics of youth entering the juvenile justice system, the extent to which the use of standardized screening helps identify youth in need, and whether juvenile drug treatment courts (JDTCs) are successful in referring the youth and succeed in providing youth the services they need.
In 2016, the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) released a new set of research-based and practice-informed guidelines. To better understand the utility of these new guidelines, OJJDP funded the JDTC Guidelines Cross-Site Evaluation. This study compared youth outcomes from 10 JDTCs with 10 Traditional Juvenile Courts (TJC) in the same jurisdictions. Two sites used a randomized controlled trial, and eight sites followed needs-based assignment, using a regression discontinuity design based on a standardized screener when placing youth into a court. In the eight sites using needs-based assignment, the court assignment process begins with the youth being determined as likely to be eligible for JDTC and TJC based on charges, records, or other local process. For JDTC eligibility, the youth must be between 14 and 17 years of age and not adjudicated with a violent offense. For study eligibility, the youth had to be in the community for 12 months and consent/assent obtained from the youth and parent/guardian. Youth were assigned to JDTC if they scored moderate to high on both the substance-use and crime/violence domain. Youth were assigned to TJC if they scored in the low range on either domain. The current study found the eight JDTC programs were successful in assessing youth’s JDTC eligibility and making needs-based assignment to JDTC using a 10-item screening tool to assess need for substance-use disorder treatment and risk of recidivism. 7 figures