This report presents the methodology, findings, and recommendations of an evaluation of the Blackfeet Alternative Court, a pilot program of the Blackfeet Tribe of Montana that provided substance-abusing tribal offenders with access to holistic, structured, and phased substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation services that incorporated tribal culture and tradition.
The evaluation of the Blackfeet Alternative Court, which operated between January 1998 and September 2000, found no statistically significant relationship between completion status and recidivism; graduates were just as likely to be arrested for a drug or alcohol charge after leaving the program as were participants who were terminated from the program, fled the jurisdiction, or were in the program when it ended. Neither was there a statistically significant relationship between gender and recidivism; however, there was a significant amount of time before the majority of participants, especially graduates, reoffended. This suggests a decrease in substance-abusing behaviors with occasional relapses. In addition, the longer participants, especially graduates, spent in the program, the fewer the post-program charges. The court had a strong treatment component that included a full-time chemical dependency counselor, the integration of tribal culture into court actions during its last year, and a residential treatment center for families. The court also had a team committed to the wellness court concept. On the other hand, a series of setbacks (including core team changes, a judge who was not perceived as a team player, appellate decisions critical of Alternative Court procedures, and acceptance into the program of non-substance-dependent drug dealers) cumulatively undermined the court's achievement of its objectives. The evaluation involved both a process assessment of the program's implementation and an outcome evaluation of the 40 adult participants enrolled in the court during its operation, 18 who graduated (4 percent). 18 tables and 1 reference
Date Published: December 1, 2005