Based on a comprehensive review, the National Institute of Justice (2006) concluded that drug court evaluations have not produced definitive information on juveniles. The Maricopa County Juvenile Drug Courts are an exception—at least for girls. These drug courts were established in 1997 to cope with the growing number of juvenile drug offenders. The specialized courts combine case management, court hearings (with the same group of court officials—judge, prosecutor, public defender, and probation officer), and mandatory drug testing to provide youths with substance abuse intervention strategies and treatments.
A locally constructed questionnaire, the Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory Instrument is used to select eligible youth into the program from adjudicated delinquents. Juveniles with prior adjudications for sex or violent offenses who are identified as suicidal or psychotic or whose cognitive level of functioning is below the fifth grade are ineligible for drug court participation. The program is structured in three phases:
Although the evaluation of the full sample (Rodriguez and Webb, 2004) found that drug court youth were less likely than a comparison group that received regular probation to commit delinquent acts, it did not reduce drug use, and it also found that longer periods of time in the program predicted greater drug use recidivism. However, girls were less likely than boys to commit delinquent acts and use marijuana while in treatment. The evaluators urge caution in interpreting the results because of significant sample attrition.
OJJDP Girls Study Group: Effective/promising program (for girls)
National Institute of Justice. (2006). Drug Courts: The Second Decade. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice.
Rodriguez, N., and Webb, V. (2004). “Multiple Measures of Juvenile Drug Court Effectiveness.” Crime and Delinquency, 50:292–314.
Zahn, M. A.; Day, J. C.; Mihalic, S. F.; and Tichavsky, L. (2009). “Determining What Works for Girls in the Juvenile Justice System: A Summary of Evaluation Evidence.” Crime and Delinquency, 55(2):266–293.