|News contact:||Steve McGregor, UTD, (972) 883-2293, [email protected]|
UTD Professor to Evaluate Effectiveness
RICHARDSON, Texas (Dec. 3, 2003) - A professor at The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) has received a federal grant to evaluate Dallas County's juvenile drug court program.
Dr. Simon Fass, associate professor of public affairs in UTD's School of Social Sciences, has won an award of $52,000 from the United States Department of Justice to study the effectiveness of the innovative drug court program in reducing juvenile delinquency. Fass' grant is part of a larger award of $500,000 that the Dallas County Juvenile Department will use to fund the court for the next three years.
Juvenile drug courts are intensive, judicially supervised treatment programs intended to reduce substance abuse and delinquency among youth and their families. Under the program, judges impose a range of sanctions and incentives to hold youth - who are subject to frequent drug testing - accountable for their actions. The court approach differs from standard judicial practice wherein a young person violating drug laws might simply get a warning for a first offense, be placed on probation for a second, and along the way receive limited or no counseling and treatment.
The drug court idea has grown in popularity across the country since the mid-1990s and was first implemented in Dallas County with local funding two years ago.
"The premise of the drug court is that if you can get a kid and his or her family before a judge in the early stages of problem behavior and, simultaneously, take appropriate remedial action, the chance of relapse will be lowered," said Fass. "The evaluation plans to test this premise by comparing re-arrest rates and other delinquency indicators among youngsters who are randomly assigned to participate in the program with others who, although equally eligible to participate, are randomly assigned to conventional judicial procedures. Monitoring post-program re-arrest rates in both groups for up to three years should help determine what difference, if any, the drug court makes on delinquency."
According to Fass, this will be among only a handful of studies in the U.S. that use experimental methods to measure the effectiveness of a juvenile drug court. He estimates that 700 to 800 juvenile offenders will appear before the local drug court during the three-year period of the study.
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