National Evaluation of Juvenile Drug Courts

The National Evaluation of Juvenile Drug Courts was located at the Urban Institute and funded by the U.S. Department of Justice to improve the methods available for evaluating drug court programs for juvenile offenders.

Researchers from the Urban Institute’s Program on Youth Justice investigated methods available for evaluating drug courts for young offenders. The goal of the project was to develop a new conceptual framework for such evaluations. The framework was designed to focus the data-collection and analysis strategies used by state and local jurisdictions as they seek to measure the effectiveness of juvenile drug courts.

A number of questions were explored by the project, including:

  • How do juvenile drug courts differ from adult drug courts and from traditional juvenile courts?
  • What unique problems are involved in delivering drug court interventions within a juvenile justice context?
  • What data sources and outcome measures are typically available and appropriate for assessing the effectiveness of juvenile drug courts?
  • How do issues related to adolescent development affect the intersection of treatment and sanctions in drug courts?
  • What challenges do juvenile drug courts face in working with parents and other family members of young offenders?
  • How can juvenile drug courts coordinate their efforts with other service providers in order to maximize their impact on young offenders?

Researchers worked with officials and practitioners in six jurisdictions to develop the conceptual framework for juvenile drug court evaluations:

  • Orlando, Florida
  • Missoula, Montana
  • Jersey City, New Jersey
  • Las Cruces/Anthony, New Mexico
  • Dayton, Ohio
  • Charleston, South Carolina

Results from the project were available in 2004.


Project Staff
Jeffrey Butts, Co-PI
Shelli Rossman, Co-PI
John Roman
Christine DeStefano
Daniel Mears
Will Turner
Ruth White
Janine Zweig

$700,000. U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, Program Manager, Janice Munsterman

Butts, Jeffrey A., and John Roman, Editors. (2004). Juvenile drug courts and teen substance abuse. Washington, DC: Urban Institute Press.

A Conceptual Framework for Evaluating Juvenile Drug Courts. Washington, DC: Urban Institute.

Project Advisors

  • Dr. David Altschuler, Johns Hopkins University
  • Dr. Steven Belenko, Columbia University
  • Hon. Sharon Chatman, Superior Court of California
  • Dr. John Goldkamp, Temple University
  • Dr. Doris MacKenzie, University of Maryland
  • Dr. David Rottman, National Center for State Courts
  • Dr. Howard Snyder, National Center for Juvenile Justice