“Read All About It” – Research Findings Published!

by Bridget Murphy

BridgetReasons why I am proud to write this blog post…

Reason 1: My former colleagues (and friends) at The University of Arizona, Southwest Institute for Research on Women (UA SIROW) (UA SIROW) have been leading the efforts on the national evaluation of Juvenile Drug Courts and Juvenile Drug Courts blended with Reclaiming Futures (JDC/RF).  UA SIROW collaborated with Chestnut Health Systems and Carnevale Associates, LLC to implement a comprehensive evaluation that included data from Juvenile Drug Courts, Juvenile Drugs Courts blended with Reclaiming Futures, and non-justice related intensive adolescent outpatient programs. The purpose was to examine processes, outcomes, and costs.

Reason 2: A collection of five research reports and two commentaries are published in a guest issue of the Drug Court Review – a project of the National Drug Court Institute.

Reason 3: A logic model was developed for the blended juvenile drug courts and Reclaiming Futures, which includes problem statement(s), sub-problems, goals, objectives, key activities, and output measures (Greene, et. al., p. 31). With proper credit to the authors, this could be adapted and used in other jurisdictions implementing Juvenile Drug Courts and Reclaiming Futures.

Reason 4: The collection of research articles highlights some key points:

  • A historical look at the implementation and evaluations of Juvenile Drug Courts and Reclaiming Futures (Dennis, et. al., p. 6)
  • Youth enrolled in JDC/RF are younger, male, and nonwhite, in comparison to the general population of youth who met criteria for JDC (Baumer et. al., p. 60)
  • Reductions in substance use and delinquency/crime were evidenced over time.
  • Seven program characteristics were found to positively impact substance use and crime/delinquency changes over time including (Korchmaros, et. al. p. 80):
    • Having a defined target population and eligibility criteria
    • Imposing sanctions to modify non compliance
    • Conducting random and observed drug testing
    • Coordinating with the school system
    • Providing gender-appropriate treatment
    • Employing policies and procedures responsive to cultural differences
    • Training personnel to be culturally competent
  • Eight feasible recommendations for engaging the community to improve health and well-being of youth and families are discussed (Greene, et. al, p. 150)

Reason 5: While Reclaiming Futures has had previously published peer reviewed journal articles and reports (RF_Bibliography 07.06.16), this is the first to examine youth characteristics, effective program characteristics, and youth changes over time as it relates to the blended approach of Juvenile Drug Courts and Reclaiming Futures. As Tyson (2016, p. 163) indicates these studies do not conclusively support this approach as the only way to work with youth involved in the juvenile justice system, but they offer the important information about the “why, who, and how” for supporting and improving the practice of juvenile justice services and supports.

Reason 6: Policy recommendations are summarized about the research findings (Kagan & Ostlie, 2016, p. 155). The authors recommend targeting youth with high substance use severity and delinquency/crime as these youth seem most responsive to this approach and model. It is recommended to identify youth through universal screening and assessments. Furthermore, it is recommended that juvenile justice jurisdictions ensure that the implementation of the seven program characteristics found to reduce substance use and crime/delinquency.

For these reasons, I am thrilled to help disseminate this work. Of course, maintaining a critical eye on any type of research is important. All studies have limitations, but scholars that discuss these limitations and leave the reader with additional questions to consider helps build the foundation for improved policy, practice, and subsequent studies. We encourage the Reclaiming Futures community to read and share these articles and discuss how policy and practice improvements might be made based on the research findings.

 

Bridget Murphy

About

Ms. Bridget Murphy understands behavioral health issues from personal, familial, and professional education and experiences. She joined the Reclaiming Futures National Program Office (NPO) as the Program and Policy Analyst and supports Reclaiming Futures sites by translating research into practice through training and technical assistance. She has more than two decades experience in the behavioral health field. Ms. Murphy has worked as a provider, project director/principal investigator, evaluator, consultant, and federal contractor. She has a particular interest in improving access to and quality of behavioral health services and its workforce through evidence-based practices, participant protections, peer and family recovery supports, integrated care, and participatory evaluation methods. Ms. Murphy has a master’s degree in education.