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Program Profile: Maine Juvenile Drug Treatment Courts

Evidence Rating: Promising - One study Promising - One study

Date: This profile was posted on November 19, 2013

Program Summary

These court supervised, post-plea (but pre-final disposition) drug diversion programs provide comprehensive community-based treatment services to juvenile offenders and their families. The program is rated Promising. The program had a small effect on recidivism.

Program Description

Program Goals
Maine’s juvenile drug treatment courts are court supervised, post-plea (but pre-final disposition) drug diversion programs that provide comprehensive community-based treatment services to juvenile offenders and their families. The primary goal of the drug court programs is to reduce substance abuse and the likelihood of arrest among participants.

Maine is one of the few states to successfully implement a statewide system of juvenile drug courts. Currently six juvenile drug courts are in operation, which serve seven counties. The first program in Maine was the Bangor Juvenile Drug Court which became operational on January 26, 2000. The program functions through a collaboration among the Maine District Court, the Maine Department of Behavioral and Developmental Services/Office of Substance Abuse, and the Maine Department of Corrections/Juvenile Services.

Target Population
The juvenile drug courts target youth who:
  1. demonstrate a medium to high risk of criminal recidivism;
  2. demonstrate a substantial substance abuse problem;
  3. have an ability to participate in substance abuse treatment; and
  4. have a parent or other adult figure that is willing to participate or play an active role in the youth’s participation in the program.
Referrals can come from a variety of sources, including the district attorney, juvenile community corrections officer (JCCO), defense counsel, school official, or other interested person.

Program Components
The JCCOs are the primary gatekeepers to the juvenile drug court programs in Maine. They determine if youth are eligible to participate based in part on the Youthful Offender Level of Service Inventory, a screening tool used to measure the risk of reoffending. After being screened by the JCCO, youth who are perceived to have a substance abuse problem are referred to the drug court manager. The drug court manager conducts a clinical assessment that includes interviews, observations, additional standardized testing tools, and file reviews. Once the clinical assessment is complete, the drug court team reviews the case file before making a final decision to admit the youth to the program. Juveniles may only be accepted into the drug court program at a hearing and by an order of the court. This means juveniles must enter a guilty plea to pending charges or accept a motion to revoke probation in order to participate. Juveniles not admitted to the program are returned to court for traditional adjudication.

The juvenile drug court programs run about 52 weeks and are divided into four phases, each with distinct treatment goals and specified completion times:
  • First phase: focuses on assessment and planning; lasts approximately 8 weeks.
  • Second phase: designed to build support and teach participants about new skills; lasts approximately 20 weeks.
  • Third phase: intended to strengthen skills and solidify support; lasts approximately 12 weeks.
  • Fourth/Final phase: monitoring phase; lasts about 10 weeks.

To advance to the next phase, participants must abstain from drug and alcohol use, pass a certain number of random tests for drug and alcohol use, attend sessions of substance abuse treatment, appear at weekly status hearings before the designated program judge, and desist from committing any new crimes. Participants are eligible for graduation from the drug court program upon successful completion of the Phase 4 requirements.

Juvenile drug court participants can receive a variety of treatment services, including individual therapy, group therapy, family counseling, intensive outpatient services, and residential services. In addition to treatment for substance abuse, other types of services are offered as well, such as educational programming, job training, mental health services, and recreational planning.

Maine’s juvenile drug courts use rewards and sanctions to ensure compliance to program goals and objectives, but there is no structured sanctions protocol in place. Rather, rewards and sanctions are determined on a case-by-case basis. The decision to reward or sanction a youth is usually decided during a review of participant progress at weekly staffing sessions. The drug court team arrives at a consensus about the particular course of action to take with youth. The presiding judge imposes the sanction or reward during the weekly status hearing. Types of sanctions include detention, community service, house arrest, increased reporting, or a written assignment. Types of rewards include curfew extension, advancement to the next phase, or praise/applause for the youth.

Evaluation Outcomes

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Study 1
Recidivism
Using a step-wise logistic regression analysis, Anspach and Ferguson (2005) found that Maine's juvenile drug treatment court participants were 1.8 times less likely to recidivate during the 12-month follow-up period compared with the comparison group of matched offenders under traditional probationary supervision. While the result was statistically significant, it suggested the program had only a small effect on recidivism.

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Evaluation Methodology

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Study 1
The Maine juvenile drug treatment court evaluation by Anspach and Ferguson (2005) employed a quasi-experimental design with nonequivalent comparison groups. The treatment group consisted of 182 juvenile drug court participants who either completed the program through graduation or were expelled between February 2000 and September 2003. The comparison group was constructed from information gathered from Maine’s Department of Corrections and the Juvenile Treatment Network. The group included 182 similar adolescent offenders with substance abuse problems who were exposed to traditional adjudication. The comparison group was matched on demographic characteristics, substance use history, criminal risk, living situation, and school status. The report only provided demographic characteristics of the juvenile drug court participants at graduation. The majority of participants were male (84 percent) and white (95 percent). The primary drug of choice was marijuana (about 63 percent), followed by alcohol (23 percent) and heroin (about 8 percent). Most participants were in school at the time of admission (73 percent) and had a prior arrest (83 percent).

The rearrest rate for the treatment group was tracked for 12 months following program completion, when they had sufficient exposure or “time at risk.” The amount of exposure or “time at risk” during which the comparison group was tracked equaled the number of days of exposure time for the drug court participants. Arrest data and information on offender’s risk of reoffending was derived from two sources: (1) the Maine Department of Corrections and (2) the Maine Department of Public Safety. Step-wise logistic regression techniques were used to isolate the effect of drug court participation on recidivism while controlling for additional factors, such as prior criminal history.

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Cost

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Anspach and Ferguson (2005) calculated the annualized cost comparisons between 182 juvenile offenders who participated in Maine's juvenile drug treatment court programs against the matched comparison group of 182 juvenile offenders who were under traditional probationary supervision. The total cost of traditional adjudication was calculated to be approximately $943,599. The total cost of operating the juvenile drug courts was calculated to be approximately $914,563. This resulted in a net savings of $29,026 in criminal justice related expenditures.
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Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Study 1
Anspach, Donald F., and Andrew S. Ferguson. 2005. Part II: Outcome Evaluation of Maine’s Statewide Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Program. Augusta, Me.: University of Southern Maine.
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Additional References

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Anspach, Donald F., Andrew S. Ferguson, and Laura L. Phillips. 2003. Evaluation of Maine’s Statewide Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Program: Fourth Year Outcome Evaluation Report. Augusta, Me.: University of Southern Maine. (This study was reviewed but did not meet CrimeSolutions.gov criteria for inclusion in the overall program rating.)

Anspach, Donald F., and Andrew S. Ferguson, and Laura L. Phillips. 2004. Part I: Process Evaluation Report for Maine’s Statewide Juvenile Drug Court treatment Court Program. Augusta, Me.: University of Southern Maine.

Ferguson, Andrew S., Birch McCole, and Jody Raio. 2006. A Process and Site-Specific Outcome Evaluation of Maine’s Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Programs. Augusta, Me.: University of Southern Maine. (This study was reviewed but did not meet Crime Solutions.gov criteria for inclusion in the overall program rating.)

Rayne, Jason E. 2010. “An Exposition of the Effectiveness of and the Challenges Plaguing Maine’s Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Program.” Maine Law Review 62(2):650–70.
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Related Practices

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Following are CrimeSolutions.gov-rated practices that are related to this program:

Juvenile Drug Courts
Juvenile drug courts are dockets within juvenile courts for cases involving substance abusing youth in need of specialized treatment services. The focus is on providing treatment to eligible, drug-involved juvenile offenders with the goal of reducing recidivism and substance abuse. The practice is rated Promising in reducing recidivism rates, and No Effects for reducing drug-related offenses or drug use.

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
Promising - More than one Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Multiple crime/offense types
No Effects - One Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Drug and alcohol offenses
No Effects - One Meta-Analysis Drugs & Substance Abuse - Multiple substances



Juvenile Diversion Programs
An intervention strategy that redirects youths away from formal processing in the juvenile justice system, while still holding them accountable for their actions. The practice is rated Promising for reducing recidivism rates of juveniles who participated in diversion programming compared with juveniles who were formally processed in the justice system.

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
Promising - More than one Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Multiple crime/offense types
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Program Snapshot

Age: 0 - 18

Gender: Both

Race/Ethnicity: White, Other

Geography: Rural, Suburban, Urban

Setting (Delivery): Courts

Program Type: Alcohol and Drug Therapy/Treatment, Diversion, Drug Court

Targeted Population: Young Offenders, Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) Offenders

Current Program Status: Active

Listed by Other Directories: Campbell Collaboration, Model Programs Guide