Predicting success and failure in juvenile drug treatment court: A meta-analytic review



This meta-analysis summarizes 41 studies that examined associations between characteristics of adolescent participants in juvenile drug treatment court and outcomes (i.e., premature termination, recidivism). A summary of within- and post-program recidivism rates was calculated, as was a global estimate of the premature drop-out rate. One clear trend in the available studies was the dramatic difference in recidivism rates for adolescents who succeed in graduating from drug court, relative to those who do not. In addition, the review revealed that behavior patterns evidenced during drug court participation were most strongly associated with both the probability of graduating successfully from drug court and recidivism (e.g., few in-program arrests, citations, detentions, and referrals; greater length of time in program or amount of treatment; lower use of drug and alcohol use, few positive urine screens, greater school attendance). Unfortunately, non-white participants tend to have a lower probability of graduation from drug court and experience higher recidivism during and following the program. Available juvenile drug treatment court studies confirm a number of reputed adolescent risk factors associated with substance abuse, criminality, treatment failure, and recidivism among adolescents (e.g., higher levels of emotional and behavioral problems, higher levels and severity of pre-program substance abuse, male gender). Suggestions for improving the effects of juvenile drug treatment court based on key results of the meta-analysis are offered.