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Racial and Gender Disparities in Treatment Courts: Do They Exist and Is There Anything We Can Do to Change Them?

NCJ Number
Timothy Ho; Shannon M. Carey; Anna M. Malsch
Date Published
April 2018
30 pages
Findings and methodology are presented for a study that conducted a meta-review of racial, ethnic, and gender disparities in 142 treatment courts serving about 20,000 participants, and it identified a range of programmatic policies and procedures that have been linked with better outcomes and smaller discrepancies for racial, ethnic, and gender groups.
The data from the 142 treatment courts were merged and analyzed to examine whether there were disparities in who is accepted by treatment courts and in court graduation rates across demographic characteristics. Data analysis also focused on the features of treatment court practices that are associated with reduced disparities in graduation rates among demographic groups. The study found that males were underrepresented by about 9 percent in admissions to treatment courts compared with the general probation population; and females were over- represented compared with the general probation population. Regarding racial disparities, Whites were slightly over-represented in treatment courts compared with their respective probation population, and the proportion of Black individuals in treatment courts, except for reentry courts, was representative of their respective probation population. In reentry courts, the percentage of Black participants was significantly higher than the percentage of probationers who were White. There were no significant differences in the court graduation rates of male and female participants; however, the comparison of graduation rates across race indicated that Hispanic/Latino participants tended to have graduation rates similar to White participants. Black participants had lower graduation rates than White participants, even after controlling for education, employment, prior arrests, drugs used, and age. The provision of family/domestic counseling was significantly related to lower racial disparity. Family counselors can obtain insight into the environment and circumstances of each participant, which may produce better tailoring of treatment to participant needs. 9 figures, 5 tables, and 30 references