U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Seven Deadly Sins Series: Juvenile Drug Court Practices that Can Lead to Poor Outcomes

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2016
10 pages
This report identifies seven practices/procedures that contribute to poor outcomes for drug court participants and recommends ways to address these adverse factors.
One adverse factor in drug court operations is the failure to function under a unified mission. One recommendation for addressing this issue is to devote part or all of a drug court team meeting to reviewing the drug court's mission and goals for both the youth and the court. A second adverse factor that undermines a drug court's mission is to emphasize accountability and control of drug court participants rather than personal and motivational engagement. This circumstance can be addressed by focusing on needs assessment, integrated case plans, and referral to appropriate services. A third adverse factor is failure to determine which types of offenders are most likely to benefit from the drug court and screen admissions accordingly. A fourth adverse factor is the use of the court hearing to emphasize jurisprudence and legal process rather than engaging the participant in a discussion of the services he/she is receiving and whether they are experienced as helpful. A fifth adverse factor is to focus on the consecutive number of "clean" days with out using drugs. Better measures of success are progress on attainable goals, treatment attendance and engagement, and increasing beneficial family interactions. A sixth adverse factor is the lack of consistent, fair, and immediate responses to both "dirty" and "clean" drug testing. A structured continuum of responses for drug-test results is included in the report. The seventh adverse factor is the failure to make data-driven decisions that indicate what is and is not working as intended.