Academic journal article Journal of Juvenile Justice

The Benefits of Community and Juvenile Justice Involvement in Organizational Research

Academic journal article Journal of Juvenile Justice

The Benefits of Community and Juvenile Justice Involvement in Organizational Research

Article excerpt

Introduction

The juvenile justice (JJ) system (i.e., police, court, juvenile probation, and institutional and community-based correctional services) has a number of community linkages with local behavioral health services. These linkages are critical, given the high prevalence of substance abuse, mental health problems, and HIV within the JJ system. Justice-involved youth report substance use at higher rates than their counterparts who are not justice involved. An estimated 78% of arrested juveniles have prior drug involvement (National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse [CASA], 2004). In comparison, national surveys of the general population indicate that approximately 9% to 38% of American youth report consuming alcohol in the past month; another 9.5% to 16.8% report using illicit drugs in the past month (Johnston, O'Malley, Bachman, & Schulenberg, 2013; Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2013). Adolescent substance use is associated with a number of immediate negative consequences and is a risk factor for substance use disorder in both adolescence (Winters & Lee, 2008) and adulthood (Englund, Egeland, Olivia, & Collins, 2008; Stone, Becker, Huber, & Catalano, 2012; Swift, Coffey, Carlin, Degenhardt, & Patton, 2008). Substance use is also linked to a multitude of negative outcomes, including delinquency, psychopathology, social problems, risky sex and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and health problems (Chan, Dennis, & Funk, 2008; Kandel et al., 1999; Wasserman, McReynolds, Schwalbe, Keating, & Shane, 2010). However, a large proportion of justice-involved youth do not access treatment services (Young, Dembo, & Henderson, 2007). The relatively few services are typically reserved for incarcerated offenders and are not available to justice-involved juveniles in community settings, such as those on probation or parole (Weiss, 2013).

Given the link between substance use problems and justice system involvement, it is important that the JJ system screen for substance use problems (Binard & Prichard, 2008). In an ideal system, this initial screening would lead to linkage to appropriate evidence-based assessments and community services. Many evidence-based interventions targeting adolescent substance abuse currently exist (e.g., Multidimensional Family Therapy; Liddle, Rowe, Dakof, Henderson, & Greenbaum, 2009; for more information see Leukefeld et al., 2015). Unfortunately, implementation of these interventions within the JJ system is variable, incomplete, and nonsystematic at best. However, there have been a few systematic studies that examine and seek to improve community behavioral health linkages for justice-involved individuals with substance use problems (Friedmann et al., 2015; Welsh et al., 2016).

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) launched the Juvenile Justice Translational Research on Interventions for Adolescents in the Legal System (JJ-TRIALS) initiative in 2013 to target system-wide improvement in substance use services. JJ-TRIALS is a multisite cooperative agreement grant designed to improve the uptake of evidence-based strategies for addressing substance use among justice-involved youth. JJ-TRIALS includes academic partners from 6 university research centers, 6 state-level JJ partners, a coordinating center, and a NIDA project scientist. Table 1 lists the university research centers and state-level JJ partners who participated in JJ-TRIALS. Collectively, the academic partners, JJ partners, coordinating center, and NIDA project scientist formed the initiative's Steering Committee, which was chaired by a senior justice researcher from a seventh university. The Steering Committee was tasked with developing large-scale projects designed to compare implementation strategies. The goal for these projects was to improve the delivery of evidence-based substance abuse and HIV prevention and treatment services for justice-involved youth. …

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