A Qualitative Examination of the Juvenile Drug Court Treatment Process

Valerie Bryan, University of Kentucky
Matthew L. Hiller, Temple University
Carl G. Leukefeld, University of Kentucky

Drug treatment courts have proliferated at a remarkable rate, to over 1000 drug court programs by May 2001 (Belenko, 2002). Literature has developed which shows drug courts to be generally effective for reducing recidivism and drug use (Belenko, 1999; 2001; Gottfredson, Najaka, & Kearley, 2003). However, research on juvenile drug court treatment has lagged behind its adult predecessor. Recent research efforts emphasize the need to understand the process components of drug court so this treatment model can be described and modified to improve effectiveness (Taxman, 1999; Goldkamp, White & Robinson, 2001). The current paper has three related objectives: 1) to describe how focus groups can be effectively used to study juvenile drug court treatment processes; 2) to present findings from a juvenile drug court in which this method was used; and 3) to interpret these findings through an empirically validated conceptual model that has been used to examine the treatment process components of community-based drug abuse treatment (Simpson, 2001). Implications for evaluation and treatment professions are discussed.

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Updated 05/20/2006