This report presents the methodology, findings, and recommendations of the evaluation of The Fort Peck Tribes Community Wellness Court in northeastern Montana (Assimboine and the Sioux tribes), which operated from February 1998 through September 2003 as a drug court for drug-abusing juvenile tribe members, with a focus on integrating tribal cultural values and traditions in treatment regimens.
Although comments from participants, team members, family members, and the community praised the court and credited it with making a difference in the participants' lives, the evaluation's empirical data did not show that the court was linked to positive changes in participants' lives. Forty-five of the 50 participants (90 percent) were arrested on criminal charges, usually disorderly conduct, after leaving the program. There was no statistically significant relationship between completion status and recidivism; graduates were as likely to be arrested for a postprogram alcohol or drug charge as were terminated participants. Program weaknesses were lack of participation of leaders in the schools, mental health services, and tribal affairs; long and unproductive staff meetings; poor integration of cultural activities; infrequent alcohol and drug testing; vague and inconsistent incentives and sanctions; and nontherapeutic sanctions. Other weaknesses were lack of assessment of participants' readiness for change, and nonintensive monitoring and supervision. The evaluation recommends that in addition to offering participants treatment, wellness courts must offer education, job training, and a focus on a positive future. The evaluation assessed the court's implementation of designed components and the recidivism of the 54 participants during the court's operation. 19 tables and 2 references
Date Published: December 1, 2005