Assessing the Effectiveness of Juvenile Drug Treatment Courts: The Difficulties of Calculating Recidivism Rates

Gayle M. Rhineberger, Western Michigan University
David J. Hartmann, Western Michigan University

The past decade has witnessed an explosion of juvenile drug courts. What began as an experiment has quickly grown into one of the most common practices of treating and punishing substance abusing juvenile offenders. Assessing the effectiveness of this punishment alternative has become increasingly more important as drug courts are increasingly scrutinized at state and federal levels for continued funding.

The purpose of this paper is to discuss the effectiveness of a juvenile drug treatment court after four years of operation. Recidivism rates as of the end of the fourth are discussed, as are retention and completion rates, in-program relapse and recidivism rates, and other characteristics of the courts' operation during this time frame. In addition, the difficulties of data collection and rate calculation will also be discussed.

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Updated 05/20/2006