This study protocol paper for the Juvenile Drug Treatment Court (JDTC) Guidelines Cross-Site Evaluation presents research designs for the comparison of youth outcomes from 10 JDTCs compared with 10 Traditional Juvenile Courts (TJCs) in the same jurisdictions.
Juvenile drug treatment courts (JDTC) have struggled to define themselves since their inception in 1995. Early courts followed a format similar to adult drug courts, but these did not address the unique needs of juveniles, which led to the creation of 16 Strategies by a consensus panel of practitioners and researchers. But, like the first JDTCs, research with courts following these strategies failed to provide convincing evidence that this “model” was associated with significant reductions in recidivism or drug use. More recently, a new set of evidence-based guidelines were developed through meta-analyses commissioned by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP, 2016). As a field-based trial, using both RCT and RDD designs, findings will provide important, policy-relevant information regarding the implementation of the OJJDP evidence-based guidelines, including the degree to which JDTCs adopted and/or modified these practices, their relative impact on recidivism and substance use, as well as the degree to which JDTCs differ from TJCs. Specific inferences may be drawn about whether following or not following specific guidelines differentially impact youth outcomes, yielding recommendations about the translation of this information from research-to-practice for potentiating the broader adoption of these guidelines by JDTCs nationwide. (Publisher abstract provided)