Principal Components and Best Practices in Juvenile Drug Courts

John Roman, The Urban Institute
Christine DeStefano, Caliber Associates
Jeffrey Butts, The Urban Institute

Despite the immense growth in drug courts, and parallel growth in drug court evaluations, there are very few evaluations of drug courts for juveniles. Evidence of the impact of drug courts on reducing juvenile recidivism and drug use remains largely anecdotal. This paper examines the results of drug court evaluations conducted to date, with particular attention to the limitations of existing research in establishing strong links between drug court components and participant outcomes. Much of the weakness in these studies can be attributed to characteristics endemic to the evaluation of limited social experiments: small sample sizes, short operating histories, and limited resources. Yet, some standard approaches to evaluating drug court models have emerged, and the strengths and weaknesses of these methodologies are described.

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Updated 05/20/2006