Researchers from the WestEd Justice & Research Prevention Center are examining the predominant policies and practices that characterize the current landscape of JDCs in the United States. This work serves as part of the initiative to develop and test guidelines for Juvenile Drug Courts (JDC).

Many JDCs in the United States face challenges that limit their effectiveness, including:

  • Incomplete understanding and inconsistent implementation of best practices
  • Lack of evidence-based treatments
  • Insufficient readiness to adopt, implement, and sustain effective interventions, delivered with quality

Researchers are addressing these challenges through the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s Initiative to Develop and Test Guidelines for Juvenile Drug Courts. The WestEd Justice & Research Prevention Center is partnering with American Institutes for Research, Vanderbilt University’s Peabody Research Institute, the Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy at George Mason University, and the Court Centered Change Network to perform the following study activities:

  • Conducting a meta-analysis on the effectiveness of JDCs
  • Conducting a meta-analysis on the effectiveness of treatment for adolescent substance use
  • Undertaking a systematic review of JDC implementation
  • Conducting a policy and practice review
  • Convening listening sessions with a diverse group of stakeholders
  • Convening an advisory group and draft preliminary practice
  • Disseminating JDC standards

This policy and practice study is using a combination of document reviews and interviews to conduct an environmental scan of JDCs. The major components of the policy and practice scan are:

  • JDC history
  • Funding
  • Treatment options
  • Local partners
  • Evaluation
  • Legal requirements
  • Successes
  • Challenges
  • Sustainability

By synthesizing the findings from other components above, the policy and practice scan will contribute to the development of the practice guidelines for JDC.

The study will be completed in 2019.